Japan interested in Tomahawk missiles to counter North Korea - reports

Japan interested in Tomahawk missiles to counter North Korea - reports
The Japanese government is considering the purchase and deployment of Tomahawk cruise missiles amid North Korea's missile and nuclear tests of late, according to reports.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is weighing whether to buy BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to reports in the Japan Times and Sankei Shimbun, the latter of which was cited by Popular Mechanics.

The long-range missiles would be used by Japan's Self Defense Forces to preemptively target North Korea's Rodong medium-range ballistic missiles, according to the reports.

Acquiring Tomahawks – the same missiles used by the US against a Syrian airfield recently – would mark a departure from Japan's defensive post-war posture.

Signaling another break from its post-war policy, Japan has begun training its first marine infantry, according to reports, in light of regional tensions, including territorial disagreements with China in the East China Sea.

The 18-foot, GPS-guided Tomahawks – which can fly up to 900 miles at low altitudes to avoid radar – could be deployed on Aegis destroyers belonging to the Maritime Self Defense Force fleet, an official said, according to the Japan Times.

An Aegis can carry up to 90 Tomahawk missiles, Popular Mechanics reported.

Any actions Japan would take to counter North Korea's Rodong missile capabilities, including the purchase of Tomahawks, would likely have to done in coordination with the US, Japan's security ally.

Such a purchase has been encouraged by the US, more of late based on missile tests conducted by North Korea, a Defense Ministry source told the Times.

Following a conversation between Abe and President Donald Trump in early April, the White House said Trump "made clear that the United States will continue to strengthen its ability to deter and defend itself and its allies with the full range of its military capabilities" while emphasizing "that the United States stands with its allies Japan and South Korea in the face of the serious threat that North Korea continues to pose."

Last week, Abe unveiled a plan to make the first revisions since World War II to the country's pacifist constitution, which calls for Japan to "forever renounce war." The proposed revisions would see an end to the limits on taking part in international conflicts and using troops only for self-defense.

"Parliamentarians will soon have to begin concrete discussions in order to present to the people a plan to initiate a constitutional amendment," Abe said last week.

On Monday, India and Japan announced increased military cooperation in the face of tensions in the region. The two nations will be joined by the US in a trilateral naval exercise in July.

"This is all reflective of the level of cooperation our armed forces have with each other,"said Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitley.

On Monday, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier departed from port in Yokosuka to take part in the sea trials, according to the US Navy.