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Japanese, US militaries plot to deploy mid-range missiles in Japan

Japanese Self-Defense Force ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors are seen in position on the grounds in Ishigaki, Okinawa prefecture, February 7, 2016. (File photo by AFP)

Japan’s armed forces and the United States’ military have plotted several times to assist Washington in deploying intermediate-range ballistic missiles on the Asian country’s southwestern islands in an attempt to achieve “integrated deterrence” against China, a source close to the matter says.

Since 2021, Japanese forces and the US military have attempted to pressure the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to cooperate with Washington's plan on the missile deployment to deter China by strengthening construction of the "first Island chain," an unnamed source told the Global Times on Thursday.

The source, citing public media reports, said Washington has started the assembly of ground-based intermediate-range missiles of its Multi-Domain Task Force (MDTF), prioritizing its deployment in the "first island chain," which could pose a major security risk to the Asia-Pacific region.

According to the source, Japan's armed forces have substantially ramped up preliminary preparations for the US deployment of mid-range missiles, although the Kishida administration has not yet made a final public decision on such deployment in the country.

Meanwhile, military experts have warned the plot between Japan and the US is not conducive to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, saying Tokyo will bear the blow and suffer the consequences.

Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Thursday that the deployment of land-based mid-range missiles in Japan would seriously threaten China's national security and allow the US to become more involved in the country’s surrounding areas.

Once the missiles become a regular weapon, they will inevitably lead to an arms race, which will not contribute to peace and stability in the region, he said. The military expert said the Japanese armed forces’ dangerous plot of military expansion with the US, in disregard of the security of the Asia-Pacific region, will seriously threaten the normal development of China-Japan relations and cause severe damage to regional peace and security.

This is a dangerous and malicious move and "if not reined in before it's too late, there will be endless troubles," Song warned.

Japan's relations with China have long been plagued by conflicting claims over a group of tiny East China Sea islets.

China has vastly upgraded its military infrastructure in recent years, amid rising tensions over Chinese Taipei, the South China Sea, and military supremacy in the Indo-Pacific.

China has repeatedly warned the US against extending its military presence in Asia and the Pacific. Beijing says the United States’ military presence is a source of regional instability.

Over the past years, Chinese warships have sailed through waters near Okinawa, where the majority of US troops in Japan are based, in a bid to curb US military dominance as an extra-regional force in the western Pacific.

Japan has in turn used that Chinese military posturing to brandish a perceived threat from China.

The US relies on Japan and its other main regional ally South Korea to support efforts to challenge China.

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