Tomahawk missile
The Tomahawk cruise missile is made by Raytheon Raytheon

Japan is developing its own long-range cruise missile amid escalating tensions in the Korean peninsula. The missile, described as the Japanese Tomahawk, will reportedly be capable of being launched from aircraft, ships and land.

Research on these missiles will begin next year, reports Yomiuri, a Japanese news outlet. This will be Japan's first full-fledged cruise missile. Apart from being a deterrent to North Korea, the so-called Japanese Tomahawk will also serve to "recapture remote islands occupied by enemies", says the report, likely referring to the long-running feud that Japan has with China over a remote island in the South China Sea.

The report makes no mention of details such as the missile's potential range, power or design. It is also not clear if the cruise missiles will be a whole new system built ground up or if it will simply be an upgrade of existing missiles.

The War Zone (WZ), points out that the original Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) Block IV version that the Japanese missile is likely based on has a range of nearly 1,000 miles and will soon get an anti-ship sub-variant that its maker Raytheon is working on with the US Navy.

If Japan develops its own Tomahawk, rather than purchase them from the US as planned in May this year, it could give the Japan Self-Defense Forces an important boost in capabilities. Purchasing the weapon, however, would allow them to field it immediately.

As of now, Japan does not have too many missile options — the ASM-1 and ASM-2 missiles that the Japanese F-2 jets can carry are only capable of an approximate 100-mile range. Even the supersonic XASM-3 variant that is in development and touted to replace the ASM-1 and ASM-2 is unlikely to have an effective range of more than 125 miles, says the report.

USS Ross
US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG 71) fires a tomahawk land attack missile on 7 April 2017 Robert S Price/Courtesy US Navy/Handout via Reuters