TOKYO – Japan’s National Security Council has endorsed plans to cancel the deployment of two costly land-based U.S. missile defense systems aimed at bolstering the country’s capability against threats from North Korea, the country’s defense minister said Thursday.
Defense Minister Taro Kono said the country will now revise its missile defense program and scale up its entire defense posture.
The council made its decision Wednesday, and now the government will need to enter negotiations with the U.S. about what to do with payments and the purchase contract already made for the Aegis Ashore systems.
Kono announced the plan to scrap the systems earlier this month after it was found that the safety of one of the two planned host communities could not be ensured without a hardware redesign that would be too time consuming and costly.
“We couldn’t move forward with this project, but still there are threats from North Korea,” Kono said at a news conference Thursday.
Japan will discuss ways to better protect the country and the people from the North’s missiles and other threats, he said.
The Japanese government in 2017 approved adding the two Aegis Ashore systems to enhance the country’s current defenses consisting of Aegis-equipped destroyers at sea and Patriot missiles on land.
Defense officials have said the two Aegis Ashore units could cover Japan entirely from one station at Yamaguchi in the south and another at Akita in the north.