The Japanese government is seeking to obtain ballistic missiles with enough range to reach North Korea, according to sources who spoke with Reuters.
Specifically, Japan is looking for missiles capable of striking North Korean missile sites and will put money aside in the next defense budget beginning in April to see whether its F-15 fighters could launch longer-range missiles to hit targets 620 miles away.
Tokyo is considering Lockheed Martin’s extended-range Air-to-Surface Missile (JASSM-ER) for the task, one source said.
“There is a global trend for using longer-range missiles and it is only natural that Japan would want to consider them,” he said.
In addition, Japan is interested in the 500-km (310 miles) Joint Strike Missile that was designed by Norway’s Kongsberg Defense & Aerospace and which is carried by the F-35.
Consideration of these longer-range missiles indicates that Japanese proponents of an offensive strike capability are gaining an upper hand in PM Shinzo Abe’s government, especially as threats from North Korean missiles rise.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera denied that his government was looking for long-range strike capability, which would be controversial given missile distance restrictions on strike weapons imposed by Japan’s war-renouncing constitution. “We rely on the United States to strike enemy bases and are not looking at making any changes to how we share our roles,” he said.
Some have argued, however, that such weapons could also be considered defensive in nature. [source]
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