Japan is set to purchase hundreds of US-made long-range Tomahawk missiles in the latest sign that Tokyo is moving away from the pacifism that was outlined by its post-World War II constitution, The Washington Post reported on Monday.
The purchase will give Japan long-range strike capability, breaking from the country’s policy of only having weapons for self-defense purposes. Japanese officials are still framing the plan as “self-defense” and say they need a “counterstrike” capability. With a range of over 1,000 miles, the Tomahawks could easily hit targets in China and North Korea.
US and Japanese officials told the Post that Japan hasn’t yet formally requested the Tomahawks but that the Biden administration supports the plan of Tokyo purchasing the Raytheon-made missiles. The US has been encouraging Japan to build up its military as part of its strategy against China in the region.
The Tomahawks are expected to take about five years to be delivered to Japan. The purchase would be part of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s plan to more than double the country’s military spending over the next five years, which involves spending $318 billion.
Kishida said he wants to bring Japan’s military spending to about 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP), the level NATO wants all of its members to reach. If Japan reaches that goal in five years, it would make its military budget the third highest in the world, behind China and the US, which is by far the biggest military spender.
Japanese officials told the Post that purchasing the Tomahawks and increasing military spending would assure the US that they have a strong ally in Tokyo. Besides pushing Japan to boost its armed forces, the US has also been encouraging Tokyo to increase military cooperation with other countries in the region.