Japan considering purchase of 400 US Tomahawk missiles: Minister
The Japanese Defense Minister confirms the government's plan to purchase US Tomahawk cruise missiles "to strengthen self-defense capabilities."
The Japanese government is considering acquiring up to 400 US Tomahawk cruise missiles, Japanese news agency Kyodo reported on Monday, citing representatives of opposition parties.
Lawmakers of the ruling People Power Party specified the purchase volume at a budget discussion in Japan’s lower house, according to the opposition.
Later in the day, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada confirmed the government's plan to purchase the missiles "to strengthen self-defense capabilities."
"We are considering the purchase of at most 400 missiles," Hamada specified.
His statement sparked criticism from the opposition, who requested Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to explain how the government arrived at this exact figure.
Last week, Hamada announced plans to sign a contract with the United States to buy Tomahawk cruise missiles through Washington's foreign military sales program. The Japanese authorities hope the contract will be signed in the fiscal year 2023, which starts on April 1.
In mid-January, Kishida met with US President Joe Biden to discuss the further strengthening of the military alliance between the two countries during his visit to Washington.
At the meeting, the Japanese Prime Minister indicated Tokyo's plans to buy hundreds of Tomahawk missiles in order to increase Japan's defense capabilities. Prior to the leaders' meeting, Japanese media reported that Tokyo intends to buy up to 500 such missiles from the US by 2027.
Tomahawks with a range of 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles), which are capable of reaching North Korea and the Chinese coast, will help Japan to maintain its missile potential until it develops its own weapon systems, according to Kyodo.
It is noteworthy that on December 16, 2022, Kishida's administration issued three strategic documents: the National Security Strategy (NSS), the National Defense Strategy (NDS), and the Defense Buildup Program.
The NSS described China "as the greatest strategic challenge" for Japan and the international community. The DPRK and Russia are also cited as "strategic threats" to Japan.
On September 1, 2022, the Japanese Defense Ministry declared a record-high military budget request for 2023 of nearly 5.6 trillion yen ($41.4 billion). This sum only contains the costs that the ministry was prepared to disclose. According to experts and the media, the actual requested budget is 6.5 trillion yen.
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