Japan will develop a new land-to-sea missile as part of plans to beef up its defence of remote southern islands, as tensions with China increase over the disputed territory, a report said Sunday.
The two countries are locked in a long-running dispute over the uninhabited islets known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.
The report comes after repeated protests by Japanese foreign ministry officials over what Tokyo calls “intrusions” by Chinese ships in the territorial and contiguous waters of the rocky islands.
Tokyo plans to deploy the weapon, which reportedly will have a range of 300 kilometres (190 miles) on islands such as Miyako in Okinawa prefecture, the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said, without citing sources.
The range will cover the disputed island chain, the Yomiuri said, adding that the deployment is expected by 2023.
Officials at the Defence Ministry could not be reached for comment.
“In light of China’s repeated acts of provocation around the Senkaku islands, Japan aims to increase deterrence with improved long-range strike capability,” the newspaper stated.
The missile will be developed by Japan and will use solid fuel, the Yomiuri said, referring to the technology that allows for weapon’s long-term storage and capacity to be launched at short notice.
Japan also protested in June after it said a Chinese navy frigate sailed close to territorial waters near the islands for the first time.
Tensions over the islands have been a frequent irritant and strained bilateral relations, though tensions had markedly relaxed over the past two years as the countries held talks.