TOKYO (Dispatches) -- Japan will purchase 400 Tomahawk missiles from the United States, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday, as his government beefs up the country’s military capacities and casting off its pacifist principles.
“Our country’s plan is (to acquire) 400 units” of the cruise missile, Kishida told the lower house budget committee without elaborating, citing the military sensitivity of the purchase.
Earlier this month, the defense minister said Japan has set aside 211.3 billion yen ($1.5 billion) to buy the missiles in the coming fiscal year, rather than dividing the procurement over several years.
Japan has a pacifist post-war constitution, which limits its military capacity to ostensibly defensive measures.
But last year it updated key security and defense policies, explicitly outlining what it views as challenges posed by China and setting a goal of doubling military spending to the NATO standard of two percent of GDP by 2027.
On Wednesday, China said it was troubled by Japan’s military build-up and Tokyo took aim at Beijing’s military ties to Russia and its use of balloons in the Asian powers’ first formal security talks in four years.
Japan in December said it would double military spending over the next five years to a total of $320 billion.
Tokyo plans to acquire longer range missiles that could strike mainland China and to stock up on other munitions it would need to sustain a conflict alongside the large U.S. force it hosts.
“The international security situation has undergone vast changes and we are seeing the return of unilateralism, protectionism, and a Cold War mentality,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Sun Weidong said at the start of the meeting in Tokyo with Japanese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Shigeo Yamada.
In the face of a current complex and volatile international and regional situation, the importance of Sino-Japanese relations has not changed, and will not change, Sun said during the meeting, according to a China’s foreign ministry statement on Wednesday.
China and Japan should “deal with differences appropriately” to ensure that relations “do not stagnate, do not go off course, do not regress, and move steadily along the right track,” he told Yamada.
Following the downing of a Chinese balloon by the United States, Japan said it planned to clarify military engagement rules to allow its jet fighters to shoot down unmanned aircraft that violate its airspace.