The Japanese Defense Ministry is ‘halting’ plans to deploy Aegis Ashore missile defense system, Defense Minister Taro Kono told Journalists Monday, citing costs and technical problems.
The decision to halt the proposed deployment comes after residents of the city of Akita and Abu district of Yamaguchi Prefecture opposed setting up the Aegis Ashore system in their area. The residents were concerned about noise and radiation which they feared would come from the missile defence system.
The minister did not specify if ‘halting’ meant abandoning the $2.15 billion deal altogether which was approved by the US government in January 2019; or if it amounted to suspending the deal till an alternate site was found.
The move was intended to provide coverage to the whole of Japan against North Korean and Chinese missiles and take the load of the Japan Navy’s Aegis-equipped destroyers which are required to be on long anti-missile sea missions.
Japan has been under pressure from the US to increase military spending and the decision to order the Aegis Ashore system is seen by analysts as part of the plan to meet US demands of buying military goods to reduce trade deficit with Washington.