The Japanese Cabinet has given its approval to a plan backed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to purchase the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in a bid to augment the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force’s Aegis-equipped destroyers.
Officially the purchase is being made as a means of countering North Korea’s maturing ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters that many specific details of the two systems to be purchased are still to be determined, however.
A number of recent decisions to upgrade Japanese defenses has come in response to a rising China. However, the Aegis Ashore decision was based primarily on the North Korean threat.
In a recent press conference, Onodera made clear that “the threat against our national security from North Korea’s nuclear and missile development has become more serious and imminent than before and has risen to a new level,” and that two batteries of Aegis Ashore were needed to ensure round-the-clock protection.
Details about the cost of the systems, how soon they could be fielded, where they would be located and more are still not yet clear. [source]
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