Skip to main content

Video Above: Patriot Interceptor Missiles & F-35s Could Defend NATOs Eastern Flank Together 4

Japan is making new efforts to consider modifying its constitution to enable what’s being called “enemy base strike capabilities,” new language which would expand the country’s ability to conduct military attacks into a wider range of contingencies.

The possibility, which would represent a significant departure from Japan’s Post-WWII Constitution which renounced war and allows for only a limited measure of “defensive” capabilities. 

Japan Self Defense Force

For this reason, Japan’s military has of course referred to itself as Japan Self Defense Force, something which appears to now be shifting in light of the growing threat of Chinese expansion. 

Responding to Germany’s current move to increase defense spending in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told the country’s Kyodo News service “our country must think about a similar move as well.” Kishi reportedly spoke at length about the need to increase defense capabilities “swiftly” due to the threat environment, and ensure that potential adversaries “pay a price” should they attack Japan.

The thrust of this intent is reflected in Japan’s proposed 2023 budget, which is slated at the equivalent of roughly $44 billion, a record high for the eighth consecutive year, according to the Japanese paper.

The potential rewording of the constitution, and the sustained increase in defense spending align with a handful of major Japanese defense initiatives in recent years. 

These include a massive multi-billion dollar F-35 buy as well as continued partnership with the US on key programs such as ship-based Aegis Combat Systems for maritime ballistic missile defense and continued collaboration on several key weapons programs to include the SM-3 ship-fired missile.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

SM-3 Launch

SM-3 Launch

A well-armed Japan greatly impacts the balance of power and could add considerably to a US deterrence posture regarding China. Given its proximity to China and of course the island of Taiwan, Japan would be well positioned to respond quickly in the event of an attempted Chinese takeover of Taiwan. 

F-35

Japanese F-35s, in particular, could prove quite impactful given that the southern parts of Japan are within clear striking distance of Taiwan with aerial refueling. Japan also has a military forces as strong as one million soldiers who could deploy in the region.

Japanese 5th-generation air power could help intercept any kind of Chinese amphibious assault from the air, given that China does not appear to operate many land-launched J-20s and, at least as of yet, does not have any kind of vertical take-off-and-landing F-35B equivalent able to project 5th-generation airpower from the ocean. 

Senior leaders from Japan's Ministry of Defense, US Forces Japan, Pacific Air Forces, and Lockheed Martin at a Japan Air Self-Defense Force hangar to welcome the first operational F-35A Lightning II to JASDF's 3rd Air Wing, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, February 24, 2018. 

Senior leaders from Japan's Ministry of Defense, US Forces Japan, Pacific Air Forces, and Lockheed Martin at a Japan Air Self-Defense Force hangar to welcome the first operational F-35A Lightning II to JASDF's 3rd Air Wing, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, February 24, 2018. 

China is building a carrier-launched variant of its J-31, however it does not appear capable of an F-35B-like vertical take off and therefore could only operate from one of China’s few aircraft carriers.

There is a philosophical and strategic element of this as well, should Japan more formally adjust its security posture. Knowledge that Japan would consider itself much less restricted when it comes to the use of military force, changes the threat dynamics for China should it contemplate aggression in the Pacific.

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Kris Osborn, Warrior Maven President

By Kris Osborn - President & Editor-In-Chief, Warrior Maven