Despite North Korea's 'imminent danger', Japan has dropped out of the expensive missile system




The decision raised the possibility of Japan creating its first-strike capability, which some say would violate the constitution


Japan has canceled plans to buy a multibillion-dollar missile defense system from the US, aimed at increasing its ability to counter the "serious and imminent" threat posed by North Korea.

Japan's Defense Minister Taro Kono says the land-based Aegis shore system is expensive and takes a long time to upgrade as hardware upgrades, and booster rockets should be placed in areas populated near host sites.

Critics say Japan's National Security Council backed the repeal on Friday, raising the possibility that Japan could develop the first-strike capability - violating its constitution leading to World War II. The end limited its army to a strictly defensive role.

Kono said Japan would have to increase its full defensive posture to keep up with regional threats to its security. "We cannot move forward with this project, but there are still threats from North Korea," he said in Tokyo this week, adding that the government could not find alternative places for missile systems.

He said Japan was considering purchasing weapons capable of firing enemy missile launchers.

Any first strike capability represents a fundamental change in Japan's military posture, which is of concern to other countries in the region.

"I don't think we have any options left before the debate," Kono said, adding that the ability to strike at enemy targets would be on the National Security Council agenda.

Donald Trump did not comment on the repeal but encouraged Japan to buy more military hardware from the US and take more responsibility for its protection.

The US Department of Commerce said in a statement that the US will continue to work with Japan to address their concerns that increase our shared security in the face of growing regional threats.

In 2017, the government approved a plan to buy two Aegis shore systems to include SM-3 guided missiles launched by Aegis-equipped destroyers and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.

The two units, which cost $ 4.2 billion over three decades, were to cover the whole of Japan from one station in Yamaguchi in the south and Akita in the north.

According to the Ministry of Defense, Tokyo and Washington have already signed $ 180 billion ($ 1.7 billion) deals related to the system. Japan has paid 12.5 billion yen so far.

Kono has expressed concern over China's vocal operations in the region, saying that Chinese coast guard vessels have repeatedly moved into Japanese waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.

"China is trying to unilaterally change the situation along the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Indian border and Hong Kong," he said. "It's so easy to make connections between those issues."




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