Japan has canceled plans to deploy the ¥450 billion (US$4.2 billion) Aegis Ashore land-based missile interception system.
The decision followed Kono’s abrupt announcement on June 15 that it had halted the process of deploying two US-made batteries of the missile system in Yamaguchi and Akita prefectures, citing technical problems and increasing costs amid strong local opposition.
At a meeting of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, part of which was open to the media, Kono also said the Defense Ministry found it difficult to pick alternate sites.
While Japan will continue to defend itself from the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles via existing Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis-equipped destroyers, Kono said it has proved to be a bad idea to rely solely on these US systems.
Bearing in mind Beijing and Pyongyang’s development of new ballistic missiles, which seem harder to intercept, the minister said Japan has to “consider what we will do (to respond to such threats) over the medium to long term.”
Kono also said the MSDF destroyers and land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system — designed to shoot down missiles that evaded interceptors fired from the ships — will protect the nation “for the time being.”
The Aegis Ashore units were to supplement the MSDF destroyers, with one candidate site in the northeastern prefecture of Akita and the other in the western prefecture of Yamaguchi, both near the Sea of Japan coast.
According to the Japan Times, the Japanese government has so far spent or allocated nearly ¥200 billion in total for the deployment plan.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2020.