Monday, 2 October, 2023

US, Japan agree on new missile development

  • Kyodo News, Washington
  • 20 August, 2023 12:00 AM
  • Print news

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden agreed Friday on a plan to develop a new type of missile capable of intercepting hypersonic weapons when they met near Washington for one-on-one talks.

Kishida and Biden endorsed the joint development plan at the US presidential retreat of Camp David at a time when China, North Korea and Russia are all aggressively pursuing hypersonic capabilities, according to the White House and the Japanese government.

Hypersonic missiles and glide vehicles fly at speeds of over Mach 5, five times the speed of sound. They are also maneuverable and can change course during flight, making them more difficult to shoot down or track by radar.

According to Japan's Defense Ministry, the two countries aim to complete the missile's development in the 2030s.

Kishida and Biden have recognised the need to step up deterrence measures amid increasing security challenges. China and Russia have been deepening their military cooperation, including by carrying out joint naval drills around Japan, while North Korea shows no signs of relenting in its pursuit of long-range missile and nuclear technologies. It will be the second time for Japan and the United States to develop an interceptor missile together following the Standard Missile-3 Block 2A.

The two countries said in November that their first co-developed missile had successfully destroyed an intercontinental ballistic missile target in a test after it was launched from an Aegis-equipped destroyer.

The bilateral meeting took place just ahead of a three-way summit also involving South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol at the secluded retreat.

During the meeting, which lasted about 30 minutes, Kishida and Biden also agreed to work closely in dealing with issues concerning China and ensuring peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, while reaffirming the importance of cooperating with Beijing on issues of common interest, according to the Japanese government.

The White House also said the leaders voiced "concern" about China's recent "dangerous" activities in the South China Sea to assert what the US government calls its unlawful maritime claims.

They also agreed to continue to impose tough sanctions on Russia for its war in Ukraine and affirmed their resolve to strongly support Kyiv, the government said.

It is the second time this year that Kishida has traveled to the United States. The previous occasion, a January visit to Washington for a meeting with Biden, marked Kishida's first trip to the US capital since he took office in October 2021.

The Biden administration has praised Japan's pledge late last year to nearly double its defense spending by fiscal 2027 to around 2 percent of gross domestic product.

In the face of serious security challenges posed by China and North Korea, the Japanese government also updated its key defense documents at the time, deciding to acquire so-called counterstrike, or enemy base strike, capabilities in a major policy shift under the country's war-renouncing Constitution.