Today’s Yomiuri led with a GOJ idea of developing a cruise missile that can hit targets on the ground with the goal of enabling Japan to take back remote islands controlled by an enemy, potentially China. The paper noted that a Japanese version of the U.S. Tomahawk missile would also deter North Korea as it could be used to attack enemy bases. According to the article, the Defense Ministry is considering adding ground-to-ground strike capabilities to an anti-ship missile that can be launched from special vehicles, destroyers, or fighter jets. The ministry plans to start developing the missile in FY2018 and is hoping to produce a prototype in FY2022.
The daily wrote in an accompanying story that some GOJ officials are somewhat cautious about having the SDF possess enemy strike capabilities due to constitutional restrictions. Some of them are apprehensive that Prime Minister Abe’s goal of amending Article 9 of the Constitution to make the existence of the SDF explicit may be derailed if the SDF is allowed to possess enemy strike capabilities at this stage since the opposition camp is likely to criticize the Abe administration for encouraging the SDF to “wage war.”