Cover: Japan's Possible Acquisition of Long-Range Land-Attack Missiles and the Implications for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Japan's Possible Acquisition of Long-Range Land-Attack Missiles and the Implications for the U.S.-Japan Alliance

Summary of a February 2021 Conference

Published Mar 1, 2022

by Scott W. Harold, Jeffrey W. Hornung, Satoru Mori, Shinichi Kitaoka

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The growth of Chinese military power over the past three decades raises questions about deterrence in the Indo-Pacific. One widely discussed question among defense thinkers in Japan is whether Japan needs to procure long-range, conventional land-attack precision-guided munitions to preserve deterrence with China. If so, what types of platforms and weapon systems would be ideal? To strike what targets and with what concept of operations or in support of what theory of victory? Is a Japanese approach to deterrence based on retaliatory kinetic military operations against China plausible, given the latter's substantially greater size and nuclear arsenal? If Japan does choose to develop and field such capabilities in support of an approach to deterrence premised not only on denial but also counterstrike capabilities, would this be likely to work?

In a February 2021 virtual conference, experts contributed to a growing debate in U.S. and Japan defense policy by exploring this issue and Japan's defense strategy. They considered the types of capabilities that Japan might procure, the concept of employment for such capabilities, and the ways these capabilities could fit within the U.S.-Japan alliance.

This research exchange was sponsored by the Government of Japan and conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND conference proceeding series. RAND conference proceedings present a collection of papers delivered at a conference or a summary of the conference.

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