Concerned about China and North Korea's growing military capabilities, Japan has begun developing a series of missile systems designed to help defend itself at greater distances and keep enemy forces away — particularly from its southwestern islands.

Part of Tokyo’s Defense Buildup Program, these long-range “counterstrike capabilities,” which will include new variants of the Type-12 anti-ship missile, hypersonic weapons and cruise missiles, are viewed by the government as a proportionate response representing the “minimum necessary measure for self-defense” in case of an armed attack against Japan.

Although announced just six months ago, the development of these so-called standoff weapons has become a priority for Tokyo, with the Defense Ministry awarding at least eight large contracts since April for the development or mass production of the new systems.