Below is a comment from Hajime Izumi, professor of Korean Peninsula affairs at Tokyo International University, on the three options on the table to replace Aegis Ashore.
North Korea is very wary about Japan’s discussions on acquiring the capability to attack enemy bases. When similar discussions have arisen in the past, North Korea dismissed them as mere talk from “the boy who cries wolf.” This time, however, is different.
North Korea watched Japan’s Aegis Ashore deployment plan carefully. Although North Korea’s missile technology has improved, North Korea thought that their missiles could be intercepted. Now that that key plan is cancelled, North Korea thinks there is a possibility that Japan may actually acquire the capability to attack enemy bases to enhance deterrence.
China, Russia, North Korea, and South Korea may think that Japan will next aim for nuclear armament. Japan should clearly show that it has no plan to acquire nuclear arms. Japan should explain to its neighbors that its plan is within the scope of an exclusively defensive posture.