Japan Highlights China Challenge in Tougher Security Policy
Comment of the Day

December 16 2022

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Japan Highlights China Challenge in Tougher Security Policy

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We see China as a strategic challenge to our country’s peace and safety and the peace and stability of the international community,” Kishida said. He added the two neighbors bear a joint responsibility for the peace and prosperity of the region and the world. 

Referring to a “remarkable” build-up of missile capability in the region, the government said in the document it is becoming difficult to deal with the situation simply by strengthening the country’s existing missile defense network. 

The strategy calls for acquiring “counterstrike capability” that would enable Japan to target an enemy’s military facilities, in a turning point for a country bound by a pacifist constitution since 1947. 

Raytheon Technologies Corp.’s Tomahawk missiles are being considered for that purpose, according to the document. The Tomahawk has a range of more than 1,250 kilometers (780 miles), meaning it could be used to hit naval bases on the east coasts of China and Russia.

Japan also intends to obtain sufficient supplies of missiles, including those made on its own, over the coming decade with ranges long enough to strike military assets in its three nuclear-armed neighbors that have been a focus of Tokyo’s concerns.

With its new strategy in place, the government is considering revising the defense guidelines governing its military cooperation with its only formal treaty ally, the US, according to Kyodo News. Kishida may raise the issue during a visit to the US the government is seeking to organize for next month, the agency said, citing government sources. 

Japan says it will retain its “exclusively defensive” posture as well as its ban on nuclear weapons. 

“Today, Prime Minister Kishida ushered in a new era in the defense of democracy. I want to congratulate him on his leadership,” US Ambassador to Tokyo Rahm Emanuel said in a statement welcoming the steps. 

Eoin Treacy's view

Japan adopting a more forthright approach to national defense, by acquiring offensive capabilities, has been a long time coming. Rearming is going to be a significant theme for many countries over the balance of the decade.

That’s particularly relevant as both Russia and NATO replete their munitions in Ukraine. There is an old Chinese expression to the effect “when the crane and the clam fight the fisherman wins”. The fact that NATO is expending munitions faster than it can replace them in Ukraine will not be lost on China and its neighbours. China has massive manufacturing capacity and a large arsenal. It only makes sense for countries like Japan to be more alert to rising risks.
Mitsubishi Heavy has a long-term contract with Raytheon to build its missiles for the Japanese market. The share is currently pausing in the region of the highs for the year. This press release following a successful interception missile test in 2020 may also be of interest. 

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