Japan to develop long-range missiles to deter China, North Korea

U.S. Army photo

Japan will develop new long-range missiles and upgrade existing ones to bolster its stand-off defense capability against threats posed by China and North Korea. 

In its annual budget request published on August 31, 2022, the Japanese Ministry of Defense drew a parallel between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the tensions in the Pacific region. 

Specifically, the report referred to China’s recent increase in pressure on Taiwan, with the organization of the largest-ever military drills around the island between August 4 and 7, 2022. On this occasion, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi reported that five Chinese ballistic missiles splashed down in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). 

The report also mentions North Korea’s recurring ballistic missile tests. The latest to date took place on August 17, 2022, when Kim Jong-un launched two cruise missiles toward the Yellow Sea ahead of a US-South Korea joint exercise.  

“What is happening in Europe may also occur in the Indo-Pacific region,” the ministry said. “Irrespective of whether an armed attack has occurred or not, security challenges faced by Japan are becoming more serious.” 

In order to face these challenges, the budget request called for an increase in Japan’s stand-off defense capability through the funding of several long-range missile development programs and procurements.  

The ambitious plan includes: 

  • Developing new high-velocity glide missiles 

  • Developing new hypersonic guided missiles 

  • Developing new anti-ship missiles  

  • Increasing the range of the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Type 12 anti-ship missiles 

  • Procuring the Kongsberg Joint Strike Missile for the F-35A 

  • Procuring the Lockheed Martin Joint Air-to-Surface Stand-Off Missile for the F-15J 

In 2021, the Japanese government included the modernization of Japan’s F-15J fleet into the so-called F-15JSI (Japan Super Interceptor) variant in the fiscal year budget. The Mitsubishi F-15J, a homegrown version of the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, is the main interceptor of Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force. 


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