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U.S. MDA pressured Japan to buy Lockheed radar for Aegis Ashore

  • February 25, 2021
  • , Akahata , Lead
  • JMH Translation

“Before the Defense Ministry made a decision on the radar for the Aegis Ashore missile defense system, the then-director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) visited Japan and pressured Japan to purchase a Lockheed Martin radar,” a former senior Defense Ministry official disclosed to Shimbun Akahata. “The then-Parliamentary Senior Minister of Defense has also acknowledged this.”


“Director Samuel Greaves visited the ministry on July 23, 2018,” said Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, acknowledging the MDA director’s “secret visit.” Kishi said this in response to a question posed by Keiji Kokuta of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) at the Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Feb. 9.


“From the start, the MDA was pushing for the Lockheed Martin’s radar system,” said the former senior defense official to the Akahata. The first contact took place on Jan. 10, 2018, when then-Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera visited Hawaii to tour the U.S. military’s Aegis Ashore testing facility. Greaves, who flew from Washington, D.C. to accompany the Japanese minister, said to Onodera that it would be best for Japan to introduce the LMSSR [later SPY7] than the SPY6 [manufactured by Raytheon Technologies Corporation].


At the Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Feb. 10, Kokuta revealed another fact: Defense Ministry officials who were in charge of selecting the Aegis Ashore components met with [U.S.] “industry-related personnel” 529 times from late February 2018 to late July 2018. Kishi disclosed that 80% of the meetings involved Ground Staff Office (259 times) and the political/administrative sections of the Defense Ministry (151). The Maritime Staff Office had 16 meetings.


Kishi didn’t disclose the names and company affiliations of those who met with the Japanese officials. The Defense Ministry, however, admitted that only the MDA and Lockheed submitted proposals for the radar and no Raytheon bid was submitted.


“Some in the Defense Ministry decided to go with the MDA and the Lockheed,” the former ministry official said. “The Defense Ministry’s political and administrative sections, together with the Ground Staff Office, led the selection of the radar. The Maritime Staff Office was expected to oppose the MDA/Lockheed proposal, so it was excluded from the process.”


After the revelation on Feb. 9, a bipartisan team was launched by the JCP, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) on Feb. 24 to investigate the allegations regarding the Aegis Ashore missile defense system.


The investigation team is led by Kazuhiro Haraguchi, deputy chairman of the CDPJ Diet Affairs Committee. His deputies include Kokuta of the JCP; Hajime Hirota and Hajime Yoshikawa of the CDPJ; and Motohisa Furukawa of the DPFP. Hiranao Honda of the CDPJ is the group’s secretary general.  All are Lower House members.


At a press briefing, Haraguchi said the radar-selection process lacked transparency, emphasizing that “this could become huge and turn into a ‘Reiwa Era Lockheed Scandal.’” He said, “We cannot help assuming that the decision to purchase the SPY7 was set from the start,” considering that the Lockheed radar was not even in the prototype stage at the time. “We will make a thorough investigation into the matter.”


Additionally, Kokuta pointed out that the investigation team set up by opposition parties to elucidate the facts surrounding the procurement of the Aegis Ashore defense system will play a significant role in determining whether the introduction of Aegis ships is also being controlled by the predetermined goal of purchasing equipment from Lockheed Martin. (Abridged)

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