Japan is looking at deploying 1,000 long-range cruise missiles to boost its ability to counterattack against China, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Sunday, citing government sources.
The missiles would be existing arms modified to extend their range from 100 kilometres (62 miles) to 1,000 kilometres and launched from ships or aircraft stationed mainly in the the southern Nansei islands, the daily said.
The weapons would be capable of reaching coastal areas of North Korea and China, the Yomiuri said.
Representatives from Japan’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Japan, which interprets its war-renouncing postwar constitution to mean it may use its military only for self-defense, has stepped up its military spending and taken a more assertive strategy in recent years.
But it has so far refrained from deploying long-range missiles, and limited its weapons that can strike targets on foreign soil.
Regional tensions ratcheted up this month after a visit by Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, to Taiwan, which is self-ruled but claimed by China.
Beijing launched missiles near Taiwan and into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in a show of anger at the US politician’s decision to visit Taipei.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard