Japan to buy long-range missiles for first time
Japan will for the first time buy long-range missiles to counter the country's "increasingly severe" national security situation, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said, CNN reports.
"We will implement stand-off missiles capable of defending ourselves adequately, when we are outside the range of the opponent, in order to ensure the safety of the Self Defense Force and to defend our nation effectively," Onodera told reporters.
A spokesman from Onodera's office told CNN Japan will be purchasing two types of missiles -- Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles -- from Lockheed Martin to put on its F-15 fighter jets.
It will also buy Joint Strike Missiles from the Norwegian company Kongsberg to be deployed on new, state-of-the-art F-35 stealth fighter jets which are just joining the Japan Air Self Defense Force fleet.
The spokesman also said Japan will be making an additional request in next year's budget to make the purchase.
Though Onodera did not mention North Korea by name in the announcement, Pyongyang's fast-progressing nuclear and missile programs have had Japan and other countries in East Asia on edge. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test-firing of two missiles that overflew northern Japan this year, which set off warning sirens. The United Nations passed the most punishing sanctions ever levied against North Korea shortly after.
"North Korea's advancements made it inevitable that Tokyo and Seoul would purchase standoff strike capabilities," Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, told CNN in an email.
"Standoff missiles will ensure that Japan has a credible response to attacks against its territory, which will help them deter these strikes in the first place."
The news of the purchase itself comes about a month after US President Donald Trump visited Tokyo and suggested Japan should buy US military equipment.