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Japan to prioritize long-range missiles for island defense

  • December 16, 2018
  • , Jiji Press , 4:03 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, Dec. 16 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s new National Defense Program Guidelines are expected to put priority on possessing long-range missiles for the defense of outlying islands in the face of the growing military capabilities of China. 

The envisaged missiles will have a range of 500 to 900 kilometers and include those intended for U.S. bombers.


The possession of such long-range missiles could change the division of roles between Japan providing defense and the United States having striking power under the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.


The guidelines will be approved by the cabinet as early as Tuesday.


According to Japan’s Defense Ministry, China’s announced national defense budget surged about 12 times in the past 20 years.


China has improved its maritime and air forces and missile capabilities. It has 57 new destroyers and frigate ships, more than 47 Japanese destroyers, and about 850 fourth- and fifth-generation fighter jets, comparable to the F-15 and the F-35, nearly three times as many as Japan.


Japan and the United States are particularly concerned over longer versions of conventional missiles, informed sources said.


China is said to have developed an antiship missile with a range of some 540 kilometers designed to be mounted on a surface vessel. The Japanese Self-Defense Forces’ antiship missiles have a range of only some 100 to 200 kilometers.


In the event of a remote island being invaded, Japan needs to counter by approaching well into the range of the enemy ships, a senior officer of the Maritime SDF said.


A draft outline of the defense guidelines clarified the acquisition standoff fire power that enables responses from outside the range of threat.


The missiles planned to be acquired include the U.S.-made joint air-to-surface standoff missile, or JASSM, with a range of about 900 kilometers, a precision-guided missile featuring a high penetration power being produced mainly for the Air Force’s B-1 bombers.


With the position information of a target entered, a JASSM fired from an Air SDF fighter in Japanese airspace can reach inland areas of North Korea. If the target is a fixed structure such as a building, Japan will have a certain capability of striking enemy bases.


In line with its exclusively defense-oriented policy, the Japanese government says Japan relies on U.S. striking power for the enemy base attack capability within the scope of bilateral division of roles. But the acquisition of equipment is expected to be promoted out of line with the defense-only policy.


Under the 2015 revised guidelines for Japan-U.S. defense cooperation, the SDF can provide assistance as needed when the U.S. military carries out an operation that uses striking power.


The provision can be taken to mean that the SDF can be involved in some way in the U.S. military’s role of attacking enemy bases.

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