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Japan aims to beef up its missile defense capabilities

Posted March. 08, 2017 07:03,   

Updated March. 08, 2017 07:10

한국어

Against the backdrop of a series of provocations by North Korea and deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, the Japanese government is expected to expedite its review on deployment of the THAAD system in Japan. North Korea’s ballistic missile fell in waters as part of Japan’s exclusive economic zone on Monday again after North Korea’s missile reached Japan’s EEZ in September. Furthermore, North Korea’s state media, Korean Central News Agency, said Tuesday that the missile launch was a drill orchestrated to hit U.S. bases in Japan, making Japan more anxious about the danger posed by North Korea.

In the meantime, Japanese media quickly reported Tuesday that South Korea’s Ministry of Defense started deployment of the U.S THAAD system. When it comes to deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea, Japan has supported the decision as it strengthens deterrence to North Korea through bilateral or trilateral cooperation with the U.S. and South Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe talked with U.S President Donald Trump on the phone and said, “North Korea’s threat entered a new stage.” In response, Trump said, “The United States of America stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent.”

In reality, Japan has begun taking steps to advance deployment of the THAAD system. According to the Mainichi Japan's National Daily on Tuesday, the Japanese government has decided to beef up its ballistic missile defense (BMD) capabilities after North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles. Currently, Japan’s BMD system consists of two missiles, including SM3 interceptor missiles carried on Aegis destroyers and PAC-3 (Patriot) ground-based interceptor missiles. In addition, Japan is looking for a more sophisticated, multi-layered missile system to counter attack North Korea’s missiles.

“We have never imagined North Korea firing off such many missiles yet. It is time to consider introduction of a new defense system,” said a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Japan.

Some members of the Liberal Democratic Party have consistently called for enhancing Japan’s ability to attack enemy’s bases. In other words, Japan must be capable of conducting air-to-ground attack to North Korea with tomahawk cruise missiles carried on Aegis destroyers and F-35 fighters.



Eun-A Cho achim@donga.com