Japan is considering buying up to 500 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US for “counter strike capability” against enemy missiles, the Yomiuri Shimbun revealed.

Tokyo is thinking of purchasing the Raytheon weapon as a stopgap alternative to the upgraded Type 12 surface-to-ship missile, which is expected to enter service after 2026.

The Tomahawk purchase would fill in for a feared unforeseen delay in Type 12’s induction.

Japan approved the indigenous Mitsubishi missile’s upgrade in 2020, including a range extension from 125 miles (200 kilometers) to 750 miles (1,207 kilometers). The latest Tomahawk can strike over 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) away.

Preemptive Strike Capability

The country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party proposed the counter-strike capability in April in light of the growing missile threat from North Korea and China.

The capability envisages taking out an enemy missile base from where an attack against Japan is imminent.

It also includes striking adversary missile’s command and control centers, according to Kyodo News.

Defense Ministry Confirmation

The ruling party discussed the proposal in a meeting last week with its junior partner Komeito, detailing the capability in a policy document. 

A Japanese defense ministry spokesperson confirmed the meeting to Stars and Stripes without revealing details.

 “We are not in the phase to answer the specifics since counter-strike capability is currently under review,” the spokesperson said.

“It is being considered within the limits of the constitution and international laws based on the recognition of whether we are equipped enough to protect the lives of Japanese citizens,” he added. 

“Therefore, we will continue to maintain an exclusive defense-oriented security posture.”

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