The Japanese vessel ‘Mogami’ in Yokosuka, Japan, September 2022
Kim Kyung-Hoon / Pool / Reuters

On July 13, nearly five months in to Russia’s unprovoked assault on Ukraine, the Pentagon announced that the United States had successfully tested two hypersonic missiles. Following a string of highly publicized failures, the successful test was an important step toward catching up in an area of weapons development in which China and Russia have been pulling ahead. Just seven weeks later, amid rising tensions with China, Japan reported its largest-ever increase in defense spending, including funds explicitly earmarked for hypersonic weapons research. Tokyo’s announcement was a pointed reminder that Japan’s technological and security policies and ambitions are

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