The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has submitted a record funding request to develop quicker, longer-range missiles as a counter to China and North Korea. As Reuters reports:

Japan’s defense ministry on Thursday sought $160 million in a record budget request to develop swift, longer-range missiles to extend its military punch in East Asia, countering growing Chinese strength and an increasing North Korean threat.

The funds will pay for ballistic missile defense upgrades, six F-35 stealth fighters, four V-22 Osprey tilt rotor troop carriers, besides orders for new naval vessels, including a submarine and two compact warships.

Around $90 million of the requested missile development funds of $160 million will go on studying hypersonic missiles to quickly penetrate enemy defenses.

The rest will pay for research on extending missile range, technology that could potentially be used to help develop strike weapons.

Why it’s on our radar: Japan is emerging from its U.S.-imposed pacifistic, post-World War II foreign policy as Tokyo becomes increasingly aware of how quickly threats around it are maturing. The U.S. should strengthen its relationship and alliance with Japan, even if that means downshifting on better relations with China, which has historically viewed Japan warily.

The U.S. should strengthen its relationship and alliance with Japan, even if that means downshifting on better relations with China, which has historically viewed Japan warily. That’s because Washington and Tokyo have similar regional strategic objectives, and they are at odds with those being pursued by Beijing. The U.S. must maintain good diplomatic relations with China as must Japan, but at the same time understand that Beijing is a competitor, not an ally. 

Japan seems to understand that, given its steadily increasing military budget and emphasis on acquiring better defensive — and offensive — military capabilities.