Ministry aims to strengthen defense capabilities in two phases

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Defense Ministry head office is seen in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 14, 2020.

The government aims to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities in two phases, covering the next five years and the next 10 years, according to a plan the Defense Ministry presented in a meeting of an advisory panel discussing security-related issues.

Over the next five years, the ministry will aim to secure defense capabilities to prevent or repel invasions. The 10-year goal will involve developing the capabilities to swiftly quell attacks in distant locations.

The government plans to fundamentally strengthen the country’s defense capabilities within the next five years. The ministry’s plan lays out a concrete path for defense development, separating the stages that can be accomplished in five years and the areas that will require more time.

The first area of focus will be so-called standoff defense capabilities to respond to attacks from distant locations, which would be part of the counterforce strike capabilities being mulled by the government. The ministry aims to acquire such capabilities within the next five years.

The government is working to extend the range of the Type 12 surface-to-ship guided missile to about 1,000 kilometers and accelerating efforts to develop the missile domestically.

Over the next 10 years, the ministry will aim to deploy more sophisticated standoff missiles. It also aims to deploy weapons such as hypersonic weapons that fly at over five times the speed of sound.

The ministry wants to strengthen capabilities to deal with hypersonic weapons used by China, Russia and other countries and drones. It is eying the possibility of developing a satellite constellation — an observation network consisting of a large number of small satellites — to detect and track hypersonic weapons, which are difficult to detect with ground radar.

Regarding drone development, the ministry aims to improve practical operational ability in the next five years and develop capabilities to simultaneously control multiple drones over the next 10 years.

The ministry’s plan also called for an increase over the next five years in the amount of ammunition and number of guided missiles to ensure arsenals are sufficiently equipped for emergencies.

Regarding cyber defense, the ministry unveiled a plan to step up support for organizations other than the Self-Defense Forces over the next 10 years.