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There is currently a growing security competition in Northeast Asia, with Japan seeking to boost its defense capabilities amid increasing threats from China and North Korea.

The Tomahawk cruise missile is a long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile that can be launched from a variety of platforms, including ships, submarines, and land-based systems. It is designed to attack a variety of targets, including ships, ground vehicles, and buildings. The missile has a range of over 1,000 miles, making it capable of hitting targets on mainland China from peripheral regions of Japan.

Japan is considering purchasing hundreds of U.S.-built Tomahawk cruise missiles as part of a major defense buildup, marking a significant break with its long-standing tradition of avoiding offensive weapons. The move comes as China undergoes a military modernization and North Korea continues its nuclear program. Japan is also set to unveil its new national security and defense strategies this month, along with a major increase in defense spending. These moves may indicate, as well as contribute to, increased tensions in Northeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits Japan from maintaining land, sea, and air forces. However, a 2014 reinterpretation of the constitution allowed for military action in the event an ally is attacked. The purchase of Tomahawk cruise missiles, which would previously have been considered offensive weapons, would mark a significant break with Japan's long-standing tradition of avoiding such weapons and could have significant political implications.