The Defense Ministry has scrapped its plan to deploy the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system in a Self-Defense Force compound in the city of Akita, government officials said Wednesday.
Faced with strong opposition from local residents, the ministry will choose from other places listed as possible sites, mainly state-owned land within Akita Prefecture, the officials added.
In May last year, the ministry said its surveys found that the Ground SDF Araya training area in Akita was the most appropriate site for one of the two Aegis Ashore units to be deployed in Japan.
But briefing materials on the survey results presented to local residents contained errors.
This led the ministry to conduct fresh surveys at 20 locations on state-held land in Akita Prefecture and the neighboring prefectures of Yamagata and Aomori. The ministry plans to complete the surveys May 31.
Residents near the training area are concerned about the plan to deploy the Aegis Ashore system near residential and school districts. The sloppy past surveys also exacerbated the local opposition to the deployment.
Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake and the Liberal Democratic Party’s Akita prefectural chapter requested the ministry to reconsider the deployment plan.
The ministry will select an alternative to the Araya area. But possible sites outside Akita Prefecture are unlikely to be chosen because the locations would leave blind spots for the Aegis Ashore system’s radar equipment.
The other Aegis Ashore unit is to be installed in the GSDF Mutsumi training area in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Opposition to the deployment may also intensify after the ministry gave up the Akita plan. (end of excerpt)
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