Japan seeking to upgrade its military via air-launched missiles: North Korea and China

Japan seeking to upgrade its military via air-launched missiles: North Korea and China

Noriko Watanabe and Lee Jay Walker 

Modern Tokyo Times

The Defense Ministry of Japan is seeking to upgrade its military capability based on the changing geopolitical reality of Northeast Asia. Of course, the need to upgrade is primarily based on the bellicose nature of North Korea. However, disputes over islands and islets with other nations, notably China, equates to the angle of North Korea being utilized to the maximum even if the threat does exist.

Of course, in the economic arena, Japan desires potent economic ties with China and to foster closer political dialogue. Indeed, in time, it is distinctively possible that both nations can overcome the burdens of past history. Yet, in the short-term in relation to China, then clearly Japan needs to upgrade its military based on certain intimidations – from the point of view of Japan – over disputed areas. Despite this, the current focus is essentially North Korea because several missiles by this nation have flown over Northern Japan in recent times.

Itsunori Onodera, the Japanese Defense Minister, is seeking more funds to boost the military capability of Japan. Onodera said, We are planning to introduce the JSM (Joint Strike Missile) that will be mounted on the F-35A (stealth fighter) as ‘stand-off’ missiles that can be fired beyond the range of enemy threats.”

It is also known that Japan is hoping to upgrade its F-15 fleet of fighters by utilizing the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM-ER) system by Lockheed Martin. Hence, the JSM and JASSM-ER systems will boost the military capability of Japan. Equall important, the upgrades will boost America’s network of military planning with Japan and South Korea respectively. Of course, for China, the THAAD system in South Korea and Japan’s plan in relation to JSM and JASSM-ER all equates to a changing military environment – even if Japan and South Korea aren’t aiming their respective upgrades at China.

Reuters reports, “The JSM, designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace , has a range of 500 km (310 miles). The JASSM-ER can hit targets 1,000 km away.”

According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, nothing has changed in relation to the constitution of Japan. In other words, Japan will still rely on the strike capability of America. However, it appears that Japan is over-playing the meaning of “defense.” After all, it is known that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to alter the constitution in relation to military issues.

Of course, criticism will ensue but the actions of North Korea and the ongoing military modernization of China equates to many Japanese nationals understanding the need to upgrade the defense capability of Japan. Equally, opposition parties are in crisis. Therefore, it is an opportune time for Japan to modernize and become a normal military power that befits the economy of this nation – and acknowledges the geopolitical sensitive nature of Northeast Asia based on the nuclear reality of China, the Russian Federation, and North Korea.


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