Japan to Start Buying U.S. Tomahawk Missiles Earlier

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Defense Minister Minoru Kihara, left, and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, second from right, talk at the Pentagon on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (Jiji Press) — Japan reached an agreement with the United States on Wednesday to start procuring U.S.-made Tomahawk cruise missiles in fiscal 2025, a year earlier than planned, in an effort to accelerate Tokyo’s efforts to beef up its defenses.

The agreement was reached in a meeting between Japanese Defense Minister Minoru Kihara and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon, their first in-person talks since Kihara assumed the post in last month’s cabinet reshuffle.

Japan intends to beef up its deterrence amid growing regional security challenges, including tensions over Taiwan. The earlier Tomahawk procurement will “help us drastically improve our defense capabilities quickly,” Kihara told reporters after the meeting.

Previously, Japan planned to procure a total of 400 Block V Tomahawks in fiscal 2026 and fiscal 2027. It now plans to procure 200 Block IV Tomahawks and 200 Block V Tomahawks between fiscal 2025 and fiscal 2027.

“This is a time of historic momentum in the U.S.-Japan alliance. We support your government’s bold decisions to invest in advanced capabilities including counterstrike,” Austin told Kihara in the meeting.

Austin also stressed the need for Japan and the United States to work closely with countries like South Korea and Australia.

Kihara and Austin agreed on the importance of expanding their countries’ presence in areas around the Nansei chain of islands in Japan’s southwest, which is close to Taiwan, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

The two ministers “shared alliance goals…to further cooperate with like-minded partners to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific,” the Pentagon said in a readout.