Amid escalating concerns over regional security and military buildups by North Korea and China, Japan embarks on a defence strategy revamp, with the acquisition of Tomahawk cruise missiles as a cornerstone. 

GlobalData’s latest report sheds light on Japan’s calculated move to strengthen its naval deterrence capabilities in the Indo-Pacific.

In a noteworthy development signalling a paradigm shift in Japan’s military posture, the country has entered into a significant foreign military sale agreement with the US to procure Tomahawk cruise missiles. GlobalData, a prominent data and analytics company, underscores the importance of this move in the context of heightened military activities in the Indo-Pacific region.

The report, titled “Missiles and Missile Defense Systems Market Size and Trend Analysis by Segments, Programs, Competitive Landscape and Forecast to 2033,” predicts Japan’s expenditure of approximately $8.6bn over the next decade on missiles and missile defence systems. A substantial 42% of this budget is explicitly allocated for conventional land-attack missiles, including the Tomahawk.

Rithik Rao, Aerospace and defence Analyst at GlobalData emphasises the critical role of missile procurement in Japan’s strategy, stating, “Frequent Chinese incursions in the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, and North Korean missile tests near its exclusive economic zone, make it imperative for Japanese policymakers to acquire and demonstrate capabilities to deter such incidents.”

GlobalData’s estimates indicate Japan’s commitment to increasing military spending up to $85.92bn by 2028, primarily focusing on enhancing defence capabilities. Apart from missile procurement, Japan is set to induct military platforms capable of launching these missiles, such as two new Aegis-equipped destroyers by 2028 and an expanded fleet of F-35s.

Rao concludes, “With this revamped military outlook, Japan is poised to play a crucial role in ensuring stability in the Indo-Pacific and fostering increased security cooperation with its Quad partners—the US, Australia, and India.” 

The global Tomahawk missile landscape has witnessed substantial developments in a series of strategic moves. The UK Ministry of Defence signed a £265m contract with the US Government to upgrade the Royal Navy’s Tomahawk land attack missiles. Simultaneously, Australia requested a $895m sale of Tomahawk land attack missiles to enhance interoperability with the US Navy and allied forces. 

As Japan prepares to fortify its defence capabilities, the region watches closely, recognising the strategic implications of this bold move in an era of geopolitical uncertainties.