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In a significant step to bolster its defense capabilities, Japan has finalized an agreement with the United States to acquire up to 400 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This move is a part of Japan’s increasing focus on military strength due to growing regional tensions.
In a declaration last December, Defense Minister Minoru Kihara stated the Japanese government’s decision to expedite the deployment of Tomahawks and domestically produced Type 12 missiles, starting fiscal 2025. This plan is a year ahead of the original schedule, reflecting Japan’s response to what it terms its most challenging security situation since World War II. The perceived threats from China and North Korea have prompted Japan to intensify military collaborations with the US, Australia, Britain, and other allied nations.
The US had already approved a $2.35 billion sale of two variants of Tomahawks to Japan in November – 200 of the Block IV and 200 of the advanced Block V models. According to official sources, these missiles, operable from warships, have a range of 1,000 miles. The purchase agreement was officially signed on Thursday, with both Kihara and US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel in attendance. Emanuel announced that the training on the Tomahawk systems for Japanese service members is set to commence in March.
This development comes as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration has committed to substantially raising defense spending to around 10 trillion yen ($68 billion) by 2027. This budgetary increase will position Japan as the third-largest military spender globally, trailing only the US and China.