Japan plans to purchase offensive air-to-surface missiles to counter North Korea's rising military threat, its defence minister said yesterday, a move likely to stir debate over its decades-long pacifist policy.
Itsunori Onodera said the ministry intends to request a special budget for the fiscal year starting April 2018 to purchase long-range cruise missiles deployed on fighter jets.
According to local media, the ministry plans to buy JASSM and LRASM long-range, air-to-ground missiles with a range of some 900 kilometres from US firms.
It also plans to buy Joint Strike Missiles with a range of some 500 kilometres from Norway's Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace, news reports said.
The move will likely draw controversy as Tokyo has long maintained an exclusively defence-oriented policy under its pacifist constitution, which bans the use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
Japan's military policy has been restricted to self-defence and relies heavily on the US to attack enemy territory under the Japan-US security alliance.