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HOME  > Past issues  > 2018 August 1 - 7  > Abe gov’t should give up on deploying Aegis Ashore system to Japan
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2018 August 1 - 7 [POLITICS]
editorial 

Abe gov’t should give up on deploying Aegis Ashore system to Japan

August 2, 2018

Akahata editorial (gist)

The Defense Ministry recently announced that the cost for procuring two ground-based anti-ballistic missile “Aegis Ashore” systems will amount to around 267.9 billion yen, roughly 70% more than the ministry’s previous estimate. It is pointed out that combined with costs for interceptor missiles and constructing of facilities, the total cost would surpass 600 billion yen. The ministry intends to start the operation of the system in 2023. However, this schedule would not be met as Japan’s contractor, the U.S. government, says that it will take six years to deploy just one of the two systems.

The Abe Cabinet in December 2017 decided to introduce two Aegis Ashore systems based on the recognition that North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs have entered a new stage and have thus become more significant and pose an imminent threat. Later, the government chose two Ground Self-Defense Force training fields as candidate sites for the Aegis Ashore system: the Araya training field in Akita City in Akita Prefecture and the Mutsumi training field stretching over Hagi City and Abu Town in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The Defense Ministry claims that the introduction of the state-of-the-art radar system and anti-ballistic missiles is necessary to strengthen Japan’s capability to deal with a “saturation attack” which involves a simultaneous launch of a number of ballistic missiles.

However, even within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, doubts have surfaced. “Even if the Aegis Ashore system is deployed in Japan, it would be very difficult to counterattack all the missiles in the event of a saturation attack by North Korea,” LDP parliamentarian and former Defense Minister Eto Akinori said in a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting on February 14. It has become common understanding, especially among military experts, that the Aegis Ashore system does not provide 100% protection against ballistic missile attacks. It is clear that the missile defense system has limitations although it costs hundreds of billion yen.

The situation on the Korean Peninsula has dramatically improved after the two summit meetings between North and South Korea in April and between the U.S. and North Korea in June, which opened the door to avoid a nuclear war. With the risk of a North Korean missile attack diminished, Japan’s Defense Ministry decided to stop holding civil evacuation drills based on a scenario of a ballistic missile attack. The ministry will also withdraw PAC3 anti-missile missiles deployed in Hokkaido and Chugoku-Shikoku regions. Given these decisions made by the ministry itself, it does not make sense for the government to stick to the procurement of the Aegis Ashore system.

Past related articles:
> Defense Minister faces resistance from governors of candidate prefectures for Aegis Ashore deployment [June 23, 2018]
> JCP Kokuta demands cancellation of plan to deploy land-based Aegis Ashore [June 7, 2018]
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