An article in the Chinese Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper accuses Japan of being militaristic and renouncing its pacifist history by further cultivating an offensive strike capability. Citing Japanese media, Global Times claims that Japan may build an arsenal of 1,000 long-range missiles capable of striking “foreign soil”.
“Chinese experts believe that those signals not only show that Tokyo is speeding up the breakaway from its pacifist constitution and embracing expanding militarism, but that the country is also seeking to enhance its ability to strike,” the paper writes.
Referring to Japan’s 2023 defense budget proposal, the Chinese paper claims the full amount was under-reported as if to hide the full extent of its militarization.
“Only a partial sum of 5.6 trillion yen ($40.4 billion) was disclosed for 2023, but the ministry's budget plan could rise to around 6.5 trillion yen ($47 billion), up 20 percent from this year, Associated Press (AP) cited the Japanese media as saying,” the paper claims.
The article attempts to characterize Japanese military modernization as a militaristic effort to alter the post-World War II status quo, raising concerns that Japan seeks to further cultivate the offensive capabilities necessary to strike China.
Japanese defense leaders, however, are quite direct when saying that the island country faces a serious and growing Chinese threat. The magnitude of the Chinese threat, which includes China’s increased collaboration with Russia, is motivating Japan to embark upon a wide range of accelerated military modernization efforts. These efforts include a multi-billion dollar F-35 fighter jet purchase and continued developmental collaboration with the United States on upgrading key weapons systems such as ship-based Aegis radar and the SM-3IIA interceptor missile. Japan has also acquired Osprey helicopters, the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile Block II, and the Global Hawk drone, among other systems.
Japan is one of a number of U.S. allies operating Aegis Combat Systems on its warships. Not only does this enhance allied interoperability, but the integrated software, radar, fire control, and missile system greatly expands the range and capabilities of missile defense systems on Japanese warships. This is quite critical given the large maritime expanse in the Pacific and the need for Japan to defend its shores from Chinese ballistic missile attacks, many of which could reach Japan from mainland China.
In addition to operating with highly-sensitive, long-range Aegis radar systems, Japanese destroyers have successfully launched F-35B fighters. F-35 interoperability, particularly in light of Japan’s massive new F-35 purchase, represents another breakthrough step forward regarding U.S.-Japanese defense connectivity.
An ability to launch vertical-take-off and landing F-35Bs from destroyers will give Japan a distinct fifth-generation stealth advantage in the maritime environment. China does operate a limited number of land-based fifth-generation J-20 aircraft, but it does not yet have sea-launched fifth-generation jets, and its emerging J-31 is being built to take off from a runway on a carrier and cannot perform the kind of vertical-take-off-and-landing needed to place advanced airpower on amphibious vessels and destroyers.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.
Image: Flickr/U.S. Navy.