Japan's early deployment of upgraded missiles accelerates crisis, to plunge region into vicious arms race
Published: Nov 13, 2023 08:34 PM
Japan Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Japan Illustration: Liu Rui/Global Times

Japan's Defense Ministry has decided to fast-track the deployment of an upgraded version of its Ground Self-Defense Force's anti-ship missile, Japanese media outlets have recently revealed. Chinese military observers warned Monday that the early deployment reflects the expansion of Japan's military ambitions and will inevitably undermine peace and stability in the region, plunging it into a major crisis and a vicious arms race.

According to the NHK on Sunday, the Type-12 surface-to-ship missile is a domestically produced guided missile. The Japanese ministry originally planned to deploy upgraded Type-12 missiles in fiscal year 2026.

Military experts speculated that this batch of upgraded Type-12 missiles is expected to extend the range to over 500 kilometers, and may also be used in the direction of the Taiwan Straits. 

As the system is equipped with an inertial navigation system and strengthened satellite guidance ability, it can be predicted that the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force will be equipped with a stronger strike capability, Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times on Monday.

According to NHK, the Japanese defense ministry has yet to decide how much sooner it will deploy them. But in the draft supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, it earmarked 152.3 billion yen ($1 billion) for the procurement of upgraded Type-12 missiles and high-speed glide bombs.

Chinese experts warned that the early deployment reflects the expansion of Japan's military ambitions. The reason for the early deployment is that the current Japanese Self-Defense Force (SDF) is eager to obtain a long-range strike capability under a preemptive strategy. Once it perceives that the ballistic missile bases of neighboring countries pose a threat, it will start to carry out long-range fire strikes in advance. 

Japan wants to use sensitive regional issues to flex its muscles, which will inevitably undermine peace and stability in the region and plunge it into a major crisis and a vicious arms race, Wei warned.

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio told members of the Self-Defense Forces on Saturday that he will steadily build up Japan's defense capabilities at a review ceremony at the SDF's Iruma Air Base in Saitama Prefecture.

Kishida pledged to secure the necessary budget and drastically boost Japan's defense capabilities. The country is experiencing the most severe and complicated security environment since the end of World War II, NHK cited Kishida as saying, referring to the recent "joint Chinese and Russian bomber flights."

Mentioning China and Russia in his speech, Kishida is trying to spread the "military threat theory" among neighboring countries, label China and Russia as "threats," and make excuses for the deployment of long-range firepower, experts noted.

There are already some signs of a return to militarism within Japan's senior leadership, Wei warned.