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SECURITY > Self-Defense Forces

Japan suspends plan to procure Aegis Ashore

  • June 16, 2020
  • , All national papers
  • JMH Summary

All national papers gave prominent front- and inside-page coverage to Defense Minister Kono’s abrupt announcement last night that he has decided to “halt” the existing plan to deploy two Aegis Ashore batteries in Yamaguchi and Akita Prefectures on the grounds that the deployment would take more time and money than currently envisaged. “Given the cost and timeline, I’ve concluded that the current plan is not reasonable,” said the minister. He explained that he learned in May that a major technical update and additional funds would be required to uphold the ministry’s pledge to local communities near an SDF camp in Yamaguchi where the missile defense platform was expected to be deployed that interceptor boosters would fall onto the camp premises without fail.

 

According to the minister, not only the software for the interceptor but the hardware itself would need to be improved to meet the requirement and would cost billions of dollars in additional funds and more than 10 years to complete. For the current plan, the GOJ has estimated that it will cost some 450 billion yen ($4.2 billion) to procure and deploy the two batteries.

 

Kono reportedly disclosed that he decided on the suspension on June 12 and obtained approval from Prime Minister Abe on the same day, adding that he will visit the two prefectures in the near future to offer an apology to the governors. With regard to the impact on national defense, Kono was quoted as saying: “We will respond with Aegis warships for the time being. After that, we would like to look into additional measures through discussions at the National Security Council.”

 

Asked whether the suspension means that the deployment plan will go back to the drawing board, Kono was quoted as saying: “The ministry will halt the deployment process and report on it to the NSC. We would like to examine what to do next after the NSC discusses the matter.” The local media took his words to mean that the project has effectively been canceled. Yomiuri quoted an unnamed senior GOJ official as saying: “The booster issue is unlikely to be resolved anytime soon and the selection of deployment locations will also have to be started from scratch. The current deployment plan is no longer feasible.” However, an unnamed high-ranking Kantei official cited by Asahi denied that the project has been canceled by saying: “Aegis Ashore is necessary to respond to DPRK missiles.”

Akita Governor Satake released a comment calling the suspension “prudent,” while his Yamaguchi counterpart Muraoka expressed surprise and called on the Defense Ministry to provide a detailed explanation.

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