This decision signifies a critical advancement in Japan's pursuit to augment its military preparedness in the face of shifting global security threats.
The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency underscored the strategic value of the sale in a recent proclamation. "The proposed sale will improve Japan’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing a long-range, conventional surface-to-surface missile with significant standoff range that can neutralize growing threats. Japan will have no difficulty absorbing these articles into its armed forces," the agency declared.
In a press briefing, Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara illuminated the importance of the deal, stating that the procurement of the missiles "will contribute to strengthening stand-off defense capabilities of our country."
Produced by Raytheon Technologies, these advanced missiles are equipped to strike targets up to 1,000 miles away. They form a crucial part of the U.S. Navy's arsenal and can be deployed from Aegis destroyers operated by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
As reported by Stars and Stripes, Japan's defense expenditure for this fiscal year stands at $51.4 billion, indicating the nation's emphasis on bolstering its military prowess. The Tomahawk missile acquisition, initially slated for 2026, has been brought forward to 2025 in response to what Japan's Defense Ministry characterizes as an increasingly severe regional security environment.
The anticipated purchase of the 400 Tomahawk missiles occurs amidst regional tensions. A 2022 Pentagon report reveals that China possesses over 1,900 ballistic missiles capable of reaching Japan. Additionally, North Korea's recent escalation in ballistic missile testing, with 21 missiles launched over 14 days of testing, intensifies the need to enhance Japan's defensive capabilities, according to Stars and Stripes.
However, the Tomahawk sale has elicited criticism from North Korea, with a defense ministry official cautioning about increased regional tensions and potential escalation of an arms race. The official, as reported by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, branded the missiles as "lethal war equipment" and pledged to bolster North Korea's deterrence in response.
Japan's resolution to proceed with the Tomahawk missile purchase signifies a strategic maneuver to safeguard its national defense amidst an increasingly intricate geopolitical landscape, thereby reinforcing its role as a crucial actor in upholding regional stability.