Japan's ruling Party chief calls for deployment of mid-range missiles in Hokkaido

Japan's ruling Party chief calls for deployment of mid-range missiles in Hokkaido

WASHINGTON Mainichi - Foreign affairs chief of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party LDP said on May 3 that the country should deploy surface-launched intermediate-range missiles in the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido to deter missile attacks from China, Russia and North Korea.

Masahisa Sato, the head of the LDP Foreign Affairs Division, expressed his thoughts at an event held in Washington by the Center for Strategic International Studies, a U.S. thinktank.

The LDP submitted a national security proposal to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on April 27, including acquisition of counterstrike capability, allowing preemptive strikes on enemy missile or other bases before they could hit Japan. Sato argued that Tokyo should be able to launch land-based standoff missiles capable of hitting targets from outside the enemy's missile range, in addition to air, submarine and surface vessel-launched missiles, to counter China and its 1,900 short and medium-range missiles that can reach Japan. He said that the deployment of Japanese and U.S. intermediate-range missiles in Hokkaido will be the first step towards building land-based counterstrike capabilities in cooperation with the U.S. Sato and other locations, and that Prefectural resident sentiment is relatively favorable to both the U.S. military and the residents' concerns over Russia. He said that Hokkaido-based missiles would also contribute to defense of Japan's southwestern islands and should be put on mobile launchers so they could be moved to western Japan.

The US military has been rushing to develop surface-launched missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, which was banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty since it expired in August 2019. With an eye toward China, the U.S. is considering deploying mid-range missiles along a chain of Pacific islands, including Japan's southernmost prefecture of Okinawa, Taiwan, and the Philippines. Sato said that he personally thinks that deploying U.S. intermediate-range missiles anywhere in Japan except Hokkaido would be difficult.