Japan to acquire new air-to-surface missiles amid North Korea threat

An F-35 launches two Joint Strike Missiles in this artist’s depiction.


By JANE ONYANGA-OMARA | USA Today | Published: December 8, 2017

Japan announced plans Friday to acquire medium-range air-to-surface missiles and mount them on fighter jets amid the escalating nuclear threat from North Korea.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missiles will have a range of up to 3,281 feet, more than three times the distance of its current longest-range missiles, according to the BBC.

"We are planning to introduce the JSM (Joint Strike Missile) that will be mounted on the F-35A (stealth fighter) as 'stand-off' missiles that can be fired beyond the range of enemy threats," Onodera told reporters without mentioning North Korea.

The move is likely to cause controversy because Japan's military only carries out self-defense, although Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing to ax some military constraints under its post-World War II Constitution.

Japan will continue to rely on the United States to strike enemy bases, the BBC reported.

Last week, North Korea launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile it said was capable of striking the U.S. mainland and claimed to have achieved its goal of becoming a nuclear state. The ICBM landed in the Sea of Japan. North Korea fired two ballistic missiles over Japan in August and September.

Pyongyang hit out at the United States Friday, after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said following another ICBM launch on Nov. 29 that the international community must take extra measures against the reclusive nation "including the right to interdict maritime traffic transporting goods to and from the DPRK,” using the official name for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The U.S. moves for sea blockade can never be tolerated as they constitute a wanton violation of the sovereignty and dignity of an independent state," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Friday.

"The U.S. is trying to openly take the measure of sea blockade against the DPRK and strangle its economy in peace time. This is part of its scheme to escalate political and economic blockade against the DPRK which has lasted for decades," it added.

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