Deputy Director-General Masaki Fukasawa of the Defense Ministry’s Secretariat met on Aug. 27 with Akita City Mayor Motomu Hozumi concerning the deployment of the Aegis Ashore system, a land-based missile interceptor system, which the government plans to introduce as a measure to enhance the nation’s missile defense. Akita City is a candidate site for the deployment. Fukasawa explained to the mayor that if a candidate site is found unsuitable for the deployment as a result of a geological survey, “the government will seek other state-owned land in Akita or Yamaguchi prefectures or nearby areas,” indicating the possibility that other prefectures could become candidate sites.
Fukasawa told the press after the meeting that “nearby areas” means somewhere on “the Sea of Japan side” but stopped short of giving specifics. The official also said that the government will receive the final results of the geological survey “by the end of this fiscal year.” Mayor Hozumi agreed that the geological survey is necessary and emphasized “the government should go back to the starting point to see whether there are other state-owned sites suitable for the deployment.”
Defense Ministry officials also met on the same day with Akita Prefectural Governor Norihisa Satake. The governor warned the ministry officials not to proceed with the deployment unilaterally.
The Defense Ministry is currently considering two candidate sites for the deployment, the Ground Self-Defense Force’s Araya exercise range (in Akita City) and Mutsumi exercise range (in Hagi and Abu in Yamaguchi Prefecture).