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Japan’s Fast-Track to Tomahawks: Security Upgrade by 2025


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Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara’s recent announcement regarding the expedited acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles by Japan has raised significant interest and concerns.

This development, aimed at strengthening Japan’s defense capabilities, has far-reaching implications for regional security dynamics and the evolving geopolitics of the Asia-Pacific region. This article delves into the details surrounding Japan’s decision, the potential impact on regional stability, and the implications for Japan’s defense strategy.


Japan’s Quest for Tomahawk Missiles


Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara recently disclosed discussions with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin regarding the accelerated acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles. The original plan had envisioned the procurement of these advanced missiles by Japan in fiscal years 2026 and 2027. However, a decision was made to expedite the process, aiming to begin acquisition as early as fiscal year 2025.


The Need for Tomahawk Missiles


Japan’s interest in acquiring Tomahawk missiles is rooted in its commitment to bolstering its defense capabilities. The missiles, manufactured by Raytheon Technologies Corp., offer a versatile and highly precise strike capability. Tokyo’s decision aligns with its larger military modernization efforts, marking one of the most significant investments in defense since World War II.


The Scale of Acquisition


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in February, revealed Japan’s contemplation of purchasing 400 Tomahawk missiles, a substantial commitment to enhancing its military capabilities. The allocated budget for this acquisition stands at $1.6 billion, underlining Japan’s serious intent to bolster its defense posture.


The Role of Congressional Approval


While the accelerated acquisition of Tomahawk missiles is a significant step for Japan, it hinges on congressional approval in the United States. Defense Minister Kihara expressed his expectation that the U.S. government would take the necessary steps to secure congressional approval for the acquisition. However, concerns have arisen due to recent budget-related turmoil in the U.S. Congress, which could potentially disrupt the approval process.


Congressional Oversight


Despite the budget-related challenges in the U.S. Congress, it is crucial to note that Japan enjoys a long history of cooperation with the United States in defense matters. As a major U.S. ally, Japan has a track record of both co-production and purchases of advanced U.S. weapons. Therefore, the likelihood of encountering significant congressional oversight issues in the case of a Tomahawk missile sale to Japan remains low.


Regional Implications


Japan’s accelerated acquisition of Tomahawk missiles carries significant regional implications. It underscores Japan’s determination to enhance its deterrence capabilities in the face of evolving security challenges in the Asia-Pacific region. This move may be viewed as a response to regional concerns, including North Korea’s missile development and broader regional geopolitical dynamics.


Japan’s Defense Strategy


Japan’s decision to acquire Tomahawk missiles also reflects its evolving defense strategy. While Japan continues to develop its own stand-off missiles for counter-strike capabilities, this process will require time and resources. In the interim, the acquisition of Tomahawks serves as a pragmatic step to bolster its defensive capabilities and maintain regional stability.




Japan’s decision to expedite the acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles by 2025 demonstrates its commitment to strengthening its defense capabilities. This significant investment reflects the changing security landscape in the Asia-Pacific region and underscores Japan’s proactive approach to addressing emerging threats. While congressional approval remains a critical step, Japan’s historical partnership with the United States in defense matters bodes well for the successful realization of this acquisition. The impact of this development on regional security dynamics will continue to be closely monitored, as Japan plays an increasingly pivotal role in shaping the future of the Asia-Pacific region.

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