Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed a plan to develop weapons to preempt the enemy, instead of the land version of the US Aegis missile defense system.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS John Paul Jones, launched the Aegis missile defense system in Hawaii in 2014. Photo: Reuters

NHK broadcaster reported on June 25, that the Japanese National Security Council could choose a new weapon system to replace the Aegis Ashore system in October.

The move comes after Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono said on June 25 that the country abandoned its plan to deploy Aegis missile defense systems on land, to protect the territory from missile risk and Nuclear weapons from North Korea.

Minister Kono acknowledged that Japan was considering future directions. It is possible to buy weapons to improve the capability of intercepting new lines of ballistic missiles from China and North Korea.

The decision by Minister Kono has sparked a debate in Japanese government and media. There are many opinions as to whether to attack the enemy’s base first to prevent ballistic missiles from North Korea as well as to cope with the growing threat of Chinese troops in East Asia.

Before the Japanese government chose to deploy the Aegis Ashore system in 2018, many ruling parliamentarians said that attacking an enemy missile base does not violate the peace constitution because it is considered an act of self-defense.

That prompted Japan to order the US JASSM-ER surface-to-air missile and the long-range anti-ship version for F-15 fighters.

These two types of missiles have a range of about 1,000 km, which can hit targets not only in North Korea but also in China and southern Russia, when fired from fighter jets flying over Japanese waters.

The Ministry of Defense emphasized that such missiles would help ensure the safety of its defense forces.

According to Reuters, other alternatives to the Aegis Ashore could include increasing the number of early warning aircraft or deploying drones. As a result, Japan can monitor missile and attack positions if it detects a potential launch from an enemy that threatens Japanese territory.

If there is no alternative to Aegis Ashore, Japan will continue to rely on destroyers equipped with the Aegis system and the Patriot air defense system to cope with threats from North Korea.


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