Japan to Abandon US Missile Defense System
(Source: Voice of America News; issued June 25, 2020)
Japan Defense Minister Taro Kono announced Thursday Japan had decided to scrap plans to deploy the U.S.-made land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense system that was intended to protect Japan from North Korean threats.

The announcement came one week after Kono said the deployment was being suspended after it was discovered that the safety of the civilian community could not be guaranteed near the Mutsumi base in Yamaguchi, southwestern Japan, one of two sites for the proposed land-based missile defense system. The other unit was being planned in Akita in the north.

It had been discovered that, in the current design of the system, it could not be guaranteed rocket boosters from the missiles would not fall outside the base. Japan had promised it would never allow something like that to happen. But it said fixing the system would require a total redesign of, not only the software, but the hardware of the system, which would be too costly and time consuming.

At a Thursday news conference in Tokyo, Kono apologized for the inconvenience and said discussions would continue in Japan with the United States on how best to carry out the nation’s defense strategies.

The Aegis Ashore defense system was aimed at bolstering the country's capability against escalating threats from North Korea.

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