On Thursday, Japan formalized an agreement with its ally, the United States, to acquire 400 long-range Tomahawk missiles, a move aimed at bolstering its military capabilities in response to escalating regional security challenges.
Japan’s government, confronted with the increasing military influence of China and the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, intends to double its defense spending to meet the NATO standard of two percent of GDP by 2027.
Washington had previously granted approval in November for the sale of up to $2.35 billion worth of two types of Tomahawk missiles, boasting a range of 1,600 kilometers (995 miles).
Following the signing of the deal in Tokyo, a defense official remarked to reporters, “The conclusion of this signing marks the commencement of the procurement of the Tomahawk missiles. Through the prudent execution of the defense budget, we aim to significantly enhance our defense capabilities.”
Japan has allocated a record defense budget of $56 billion for the upcoming fiscal year starting in April. Despite Japan’s post-war pacifist constitution, which ostensibly restricts its military to defensive actions, recent updates to key security and defense policies explicitly acknowledge the challenges posed by China.
During a press conference earlier in the day, US Ambassador Rahm Emanuel praised Japan’s renewed commitment to defense, stating, “As aggressors become increasingly belligerent, Japan is leading the charge among nations striving to safeguard peace and prosperity by raising the stakes against aggression.”
In a related move last month, Tokyo eased restrictions on arms exports, allowing the sale of Patriot missiles manufactured in Japan under license to the United States. This decision was prompted by the U.S.’s need to replenish its missile stocks after providing these weapon systems to Ukraine.