Despite only until recently having no military to speak of at all based on post-WWII disarmament, Japan’s defense ministry is hinting that it could soon equip its submarines with long range missiles, regional media reported Monday.
Japan’s armed forces are “considering acquiring the capability to launch long-range missiles from submarines as a way to mount a counter-strike against foreign threats,” Nikkei reported.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK referenced considerations for the acquirement of the iconic Tomahawk cruise missile in partnership with the US. If it goes through, the new platform would be deployable by some point in the 2030s.
The news comes after in the last couple years Tokyo acknowledged it is studying ways to enhance deterrence. In 2021, for example, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated:
“In order to protect the lives and livelihood of our citizens, we will examine all options, including so-called enemy base strike capability in a realistic manner without ruling out any options. We will fundamentally strengthen our defense capabilities with an accelerated pace.”
Earlier reports also said that ships and fighter jets will be included as key platforms from which to launch longer range missiles.
Maritime and arms monitoring site Naval News describes based on the reports, “the reason why the Japanese government is considering the purchase of Tomahawk is that it cannot wait to deploy domestically produced long-range cruise missiles in the face of recent heightened security threats.”
China in particular has of late been seen as challenging Japan’s maritime territory and sovereignty over disputed islands. Japan has also recently become more vocally supportive of the United States’ stance on the Taiwan issue.
“The Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD) is currently in the process of extending the range of the Type 12 surface-to-ship missiles deployed by the Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), from the current 200 km to a maximum of 1,200 km,” the Naval News report explains. Japanese media has revealed that submarines are now being seriously considered as among the list of options.