Japan approves deployment of new US missile system
Iran Press TV
Tue Dec 19, 2017 06:38AM
Japan's cabinet has approved the deployment of the US military's ground-based Aegis missile interceptor system in an attempt to counter perceived threats from North Korea.
"North Korea's nuclear and missile development has become a greater and more imminent threat for Japan's national security, and we need to drastically improve our ballistic missile defense capability to protect Japan continuously and sustainably," the government said in a statement on Tuesday.
North Korea fired two missiles over Japan this year, which Tokyo could not shoot down because of constitutional restraints. Pyongyang has also formerly threatened to "sink" Japan in the event of war.
Japan, along with its main ally, the United States, has been opposed to North Korea over its weapons programs. It has been dependent on the US for protection. The new missile system would be added to Japan's current missile systems consisting of US land-based Patriot missiles and Aegis-equipped destroyers.
The deployment of the new Aegis missile, which is planned for 2023, will reportedly cost about 200 billion yen (1.8 billion dollars).
"Naval vessels need to return to their ports regularly for rest and refueling, but if it's ground deployment, we will be able to operate almost 24-7," a Japanese military official said. "We can be on permanent vigilance even when signs (of missile firing) are hard to detect."
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged to bolster his country's military capabilities and amend the country's pacifist constitution.
Japan's military spending has increased steadily since Abe took office in 2012, with the government saying it plans to buy more American weapons.
The North Korean missile program, along with its nuclear activities, has alarmed regional and other countries. Pyongyang says the programs are needed to counter potential hostility by its adversaries.
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