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Japan mulls deploying long-range missiles 'to counter China'

A member of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) runs past a surface-to-ship missile system during a live fire exercise at East Fuji Maneuver Area in Gotemba on May 28, 2022. (Via AFP)

Japan has been considering the deployment of 1,000 long-range cruise missiles to increase its ability "to counter the growing regional military clout of China."

The Japanese government had devised plans to upgrade its existing surface-to-ship missiles to extend their range from 100 kilometers to about 1,000 kilometers, Local newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported on Sunday.

The added range would allow Japanese military forces to reach targets inside China's mainland as well as North Korea, the newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.

Upgrades would also need to be made to allow Japan's existing ships and aircraft to be able to fire the new missiles, which could hit land-based targets, the newspaper added.

Yomiuri reported the missiles would be deployed in and around the southwestern Kyushu region and on the small islands in Japan's southwestern waters close to Chinese Taipei.

Japan's new leader Fumio Kishida has vowed to boost military spending, which has been kept close to around one percent of GDP.

Media reports said that Japan's defense ministry is expected to request 5.5 trillion yen ($40.2 billion) for the next fiscal year, up slightly from the 5.18 trillion requested for the current fiscal year.

In the meantime, Japan along with India, Australia, and the United States, which form an unofficial military pact commonly referred to as the Quad or the Quadrilateral Security Dialog, have been increasing interoperability in recent years in an attempt to project themselves as a formidable force to counter China’s growing clout in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Quad cites recent geopolitical developments, including Beijing's stance regarding Chinese Taipei and Russia's operations in Ukraine, as further justification to increase military interoperability.

Last year, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command Admiral John Aquilino warned other Quad members that China was pursuing its biggest military buildup since the Second World War.

Aquilino asked Quad members to increase interoperability to counter “the threats” posed by Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Navy.

Beijing regards the Quad as part of a US-led campaign to undermine China’s interests.

In March 2021, when leaders of the Quad alliance met for the first time, China’s foreign ministry asserted, “We hope the relevant countries will follow the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win results, refrain from forming closed and exclusive ‘cliques’ and act in a way that is conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity.”

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