Japan Buying Missiles That Can Strike North Korea Bases
But defense minister says it will still mainly rely on US protection
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 8, 2017 11:35 AM CST
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera arrives at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo on Nov. 1, 2017.   (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

(Newser) – While North Korea keeps up its taunting missile tests, Japan is making plans of its own, with North Korea seemingly in its sights. The Wall Street Journal reports Japan is set to purchase extended-range missiles that could hit the North's military bases. The country's Defense Ministry says it will ask for $19 million in next year's budget to scoop up a Norwegian-built Joint Strike Missile that can travel up to 300 miles, as well as extra funds to revamp its F-35 jet fighters to carry Lockheed Martin missiles, including the company's Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile. The latter can reach just over 600 miles—far enough to hit land targets in the North from jets near Japan. Japan's defense minister minimizes the news, saying Japan would keep its reliance on the US for any such strikes.

This would mark Japan's first-ever purchase of long-range missiles, notes CNN, and the move is upsetting some who want to stick to the official pacifist stance the country has maintained since World War II. One person likely to be pleased is President Trump, who said during a November visit that Japan should buy "massive" amounts of military equipment from the US. Meanwhile, North Korea has reportedly expressed a willingness to have a sit-down with the US over the nuclear detente. The Guardian reports that Sergey Lavrov, Russia's foreign minister, informed Rex Tillerson of that news Thursday when the two met in Vienna. No response from Tillerson yet, but the US State Department's stance has been that the North needs to show it's serious about giving up its nukes before a true conversation can be had.

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