January 20, 2018

Japan OKs missile defence

20 December 2017, 01:23 | Kara Nash



With the Aegis Ashore, "we will be able to defend our country on a sustainable basis and our ballistic missile defense capability will improve drastically", Defense Minister Onodera Itsunori said a news conference.

Defence officials say two Aegis Ashore units can cover Japan entirely by using advanced missile interceptors such as SM-3 Block IIA that was jointly developed by Japan and the US, and would cost around 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion), though they have not released exact figures.

Officials with the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs called the deployment of USA missile defense systems in Japan a violation of the treaty between the USSR and the United States, while Tokyo facilitates the initiative, Mikhail Ulyanov, Director of the Department for Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The government has chose to add a new layer of protection to the already existing two tiers of missile defences, the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors and the Air Self-Defense Force's ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors.

Aegis Ashore is a land-based version of the Aegis combat system developed for warships, a collection of radars, computers and missiles.

Korea as S. Korea & US escalate activity
China's envoy expressed concern about a hardening of positions, saying the current crisis "hardly makes one optimistic". But the White House distanced itself from those remarks by Tillerson and said now is not the time for negotiations.

Japan chose Aegis Ashore ahead of other land-based missile defenses, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system that the USA recently deployed to South Korea. The deployment of these systems is explained by the sharply increased missile threat from North Korea.

Each Aegis Ashore battery is estimated to cost approximately $8.9 billion, reports Bloomberg.

Japanese defense officials also considered purchasing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, another US -built anti-missile system, but chose the Aegis Ashore due to its cost-effectiveness. The government is making arrangements to deploy one unit in Akita Prefecture and the other in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and to start operating them in about fiscal 2023. Therefore the government decided that Cabinet approval is necessary to introduce Aegis Ashore.

To accelerate the preparations for the deployment of missile defense complexes, the government intends to allocate 2.8 billion yen ($24 million) from the supplementary budget for the current financial year (ending March 31, 2018).

Last month, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, it claims can strike United States cities, although experts have questioned whether a missile carrying a nuclear payload, and flying on a standard trajectory, would be capable of covering that distance.

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