New US strategy seeks to arm Japan against China

With no ally in the region willing to host US missiles, Washington should encourage Japan’s rearmament instead, says a new report

A new RAND Corporation report states that none of the US Pacific allies would be willing to host intermediate range missiles. This is according to the think tank tasked by developing Pentagon strategies. Its author suggests that Washington encourage Japan to build a missile defense system to counter Chinese ship attacks.

The Pentagon announced that it had been working on banned missiles, and wanted to place them on the Pacific Rim. This was just days after the US pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) in August 2019. Jeffrey W. Hornung, RAND analyst, points out that this seems easier said than done.

RAND has provided the following report: publicizedHornung said Monday that “the likely receptivity to hosting such systems is very low as long as current domestic political conditions and regional security trends hold,”Specifically, to Thailand and Australia.

Thailand’s history has been a long one. “military-backed government”This “shows a propensity to pursue closer ties with China,” the US wouldn’t want to base missiles there – and the Thai would be unlikely to accept if asked – Hornung said.

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FILE PHOTO: Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft (L) flying alongside a Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force H-6K bomber that reportedly flew over the Bashi Channel, south of Taiwan, and over the Miyako Strait, near Japan's Okinawa Island, in a drill. © Handout / TAIWAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / AFP
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The Philippines also have “extremely unlikely”To accept US missiles. Even though “the Philippine public and elites generally support the United States and the alliance, President Rodrigo Duterte has pursued policies that negatively affect ties,” Hornung wrote.

The report states that South Korea’s government (ROK), has also ties with China, and could be subject to Chinese pressure. “highly unlikely”Accept to Hosting US Missiles Amongst Us “a general deterioration of US-ROK relations.” 

While Australia seems like a good candidate, especially after the 2021 AUKUS submarine pact and other developments, Canberra is known for “historical reluctance to host permanent foreign bases.” Australia is also just too far from China for the ground-based intermediate-range missile systems (GBIRM) to be effective.

Even Japan will do it. “bolster its own defense capabilities vis-à-vis China,”The US is unwilling to increase its military presence. “deploying weapons that are explicitly offensive in nature,”The report contains the following information.

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Deployment of an Iskander-M ballistic missile launcher is pictured during the military drills, in Ivanovo region, Russia.
Moscow promises retaliation if US places previously banned intermediate-range missiles in Japan, within range of Russia’s border

Any US strategy which relies on an ally to host GBIRM forever “would face serious risks of failure due to an inability to find a willing partner,” Hornung writes.

Instead, he claims that the US should “help Japan in its efforts to develop and deploy an arsenal of ground-based, anti-ship standoff missile capabilities,”This could lead Tokyo to be willing to use anti-ship cruise missiles that have longer ranges.

“Although these missiles still would not be capable of deep strikes into China, if they were deployed on Japan’s southwestern islands or even Kyushu, they would be able to cover ship movements in the Taiwan Strait, the East China Sea, and some of China’s east coast, thereby extending the range at which Chinese assets could be held at war-planning risk and potentially contributing to a maritime interdiction mission in the Taiwan Strait,”Conclusion of the report



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