The Defence Ministry of Japan has approved the development of various versions of Mitsubishi’s Type 12 missiles, under contracts worth almost 380 billion yen ($2.8 billion) signed with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the country’s top defense contractor.
These missiles will be deployed for use as early as 2026, in response to growing fears of China’s increasing military strength.
The contracts include enhanced versions of Mitsubishi’s Type 12 missiles for surface, sea and air launches, and a hypersonic ballistic missile for the defence of remote islands.
The Japanese Ministry has started mass production of Type 12 land-to-ship guided missiles and hypersonic gliding missiles, which have already been developed.
This production is expected to gradually increase over the next five years. Due to limited land space at home, missile tests will be conducted at military bases in the United States.
Japan also has plans for the development of submarine-launched long-range anti-ship guided missiles.
The development plan aligns with a new National Security Strategy that Japan announced in December 2021.
The new strategy includes developing a preemptive strike capacity, which is a significant shift from Japan’s postwar defense policy.
The country will nearly double its military spending over the next five years to 43 trillion yen ($315 billion) as part of the new strategy to deter potential threats from China, North Korea and Russia.
Japan is also buying 400 US-made long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of hitting targets up to 1,600 kilometers away for deployment starting in 2026.
The Tomahawks will act as a stop gap while Mitsubishi works on upgrading and extending the range of its missiles.
Despite plans to strengthen defenses in its southwest region and recent placement of missile units on remote islands, residents of Okinawa are divided over the move due to concerns of becoming involved in a conflict.