Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that his country plans to purchase 400 Tomahawk missiles from the US, a deal that will break from Tokyo’s post-World War II policy of only having weapons for self-defense purposes.
It was first revealed in December that Japan planned to purchase Tomahawks, which have a range of over 1,000 miles, putting targets in China and North Korea in range. Tokyo has set aside $1.5 billion for the missiles and plans to purchase them in the next fiscal year.
The US has welcomed Kishida’s plan to obtain what he calls “counterstrike” capabilities. The Tomahawk purchase is part of Japan’s US-backed military buildup that will double Tokyo’s defense budget by 2027, which will make Japan the third biggest military spender in the world.
The military buildup is aimed at China and comes after Tokyo released a national security strategy that named Beijing the “biggest strategic challenge,” echoing language in the Pentagon’s 2022 National Defense Strategy.
In January, the US and Japan announced a series of steps they were taking to increase military cooperation. One plan involves deploying a new unit of US Marines to Okinawa’s islands that will be armed with anti-ship missiles.
Lt. Gen. James Bierman, the commander of US Marines Forces Japan, recently told Financial Times that the increased military cooperation with Japan and other US allies in the region is being done to prepare for war with China. He said the US was “setting the theater” in the region the same way it did in Ukraine after 2014.