Japan’s Defense Ministry is considering the deployment of hypersonic missiles by 2030, seeking to bolster counterstrike capabilities to deter regional threats as the war in Ukraine transforms the global security landscape, Report Az informs, citing foreign Nikkei Asia.
Hypersonic missiles fly at five times or more the speed of sound and on a more complex trajectory than ballistic missiles, making them difficult to shoot down. Given North Korean and Chinese advancements in missile capabilities, Japan believes it needs to be able to not only intercept incoming projectiles but to strike back if necessary.
Japan will revise its national security strategy and other key defense documents at the end of the year when it will outline its position regarding counterstrike capabilities, which is expected to include language regarding hypersonic missiles as well.
One proposal is for Japan to adopt long-range missiles, a key tool for counterstrike capabilities and deterrence, in three stages. First, Tokyo could consider acquiring the Tomahawk and other battle-tested cruise missiles from Washington, which could happen on a short timeline with U.S. approval. Then it could update its homegrown Type 12 surface-to-ship missile, extending its range from less than 200 km currently to over 1,000 km. The updated missiles could be introduced as early as fiscal 2026.
The adoption of hypersonic missiles would be the third and final stage. They are more difficult to intercept than the Tomahawk or Type 12, meaning they could bolster Japan’s deterrence capability.