Japan beefs up missile system to defend against North Korea

Japan beefs up missile system to defend against North Korea

Japan beefs up missile system to defend against North Korea

"North Korea's nuclear and missile development has become a more serious and imminent threat to our security, entering in a new phase", a Cabinet statement said.

"We can not say what the final costs will be, but we will move ahead (to introduce Aegis Ashore) on the fastest possible schedule, given public calls that the government should deal as swiftly and urgently as possible with the ballistic missile defense issue", Onodera said.

The government has chose to add a new layer of protection to the already existing two tiers of missile defences, the Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors and the Air Self-Defense Force's ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors. The government plans to deploy the two batteries by 2023 but has yet to make a decision on the locations of the new missile defense systems.

TOKYO-Japan formally decided on Tuesday it would expand its ballistic missile defense system with US -made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors in response to a growing threat from North Korean rockets.

The government believes that the deployment of the ground-based missile interceptor system will enable Japan to deal with attacks from North Korea at any time.

One Aegis Ashore unit is known to cost close to 100 billion yen which is about 966 billion won. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to purchase more U.S. military equipment.

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In late November, North Korea launched an unidentified ballistic missile that fell in the exclusive economic zone of Japan.

The new Aegis stations may not come with a powerful radar, dubbed Spy-6, which is being developed by the United States.

A later upgrade, once the USA military has deployed Spy-6 on its ships around 2022, could prove a costly proposition for Japan as outlays on new equipment squeeze its military budget.

The Japanese government is still evaluating other options, including the possible acquisition of six Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) batteries.

Tokyo is also planning to purchase US -built long-range cruise missiles, a decision that would prove controversial since Japan's post-World War Two pacifist constitution renounces war.

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