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Japan Reportedly Reveals When It Could Decide on Alternative to Scrapped US Aegis Ashore System

CC BY 2.0 / US Missile Defense Agency / Aegis Ashore Missile Defence - Hawaii Complex
Aegis Ashore Missile Defence - Hawaii Complex - Sputnik International
Last week, Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono announced Tokyo’s readiness to suspend deployment of the US land-based missile system Aegis Ashore, citing the project's high cost.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK on Thursday reported that the country’s National Security Council may consider a replacement for the US missile defence system Aegis Ashore by October.

Reuters, in turn, cited Japanese Defence Minister Taro Kono as saying that the country is considering acquiring a first-strike weapon as an alternative to Aegis Ashore, something that was earlier suggested by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The developments come after Kono confirmed Japan’s decision to scrap plans on Aegis Ashore deployment in the country earlier on Thursday.

"The National Security Council discussed this matter and reached a conclusion that the deployment of Aegis Ashore in Akita and Yamaguchi is to be rescinded. I want to deeply apologise that it has come to this”, Kono told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

The statement follows Kono’s surprise announcement last week that the deployment of the US missile defence system in Japan was no longer reasonable, as it would cost the budget about $1.86 billion to fix existing technical issues.

Prime Minister Abe, for his part, said at the time that the government remains committed to considering alternatives to Aegis Ashore, adding “there should not be a gap in our country's defences; we want to hold discussions on the necessary measures”.

In December 2017, the Japanese government approved the deployment of the US missile system in the northwest and in the southwest of the country.

The two components of Aegis Ashore, which cost about $890 million each, were expected to enter service before 2023 to cover the entire country.

Japan is currently protected by four destroyers equipped with US Aegis missile defence systems carrying SM-3 intercept missiles as well as modernised surface-to-air PAC-3 ballistic missile interceptors.

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