Tokyo, Dec 18 (efe-epa).- The government of Japan on Friday approved the construction of two new naval warships equipped with Aegis missile-interceptor systems, after discarding their land-based installation plan, officials reported.
This defense system aims to defend Japan against threats from the North Korean regime and China in the South China Sea.
The deployment of Aegis Ashore missile-interceptor systems at land bases in northern and southwestern Japan was suspended in June due to public opposition and economic and technical reasons, and alternatives have since been explored.
At a Japanese cabinet meeting Friday to define the country’s new missile defense policy, another two options were discarded – one of them the deployment of the system in private-sector vehicles and the other using offshore maritime platforms, such as oil rigs.
At a press conference, Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said that the Japanese authorities will continue to consider other measures to strengthen their missile defense systems.
In this regard, the government also announced the country’s plans to develop a new long-range “standoff missile.”
The new model, which can be launched from ships and planes, will have a greater range than the anti-ship missiles currently available to the Japanese armed forces and will be designed to hit targets outside enemy range, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Costs of the two warships are estimated at more than 500 billion yen ($4.8 billion) and development of the standoff missiles about 33.5 billion yen, according to Kyodo news. Both are expected to take five years.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been looking into the ability to launch strikes on foreign soil amid concerns the policy would deviate from the country’s pacifist constitution, Kyodo added.
The installation of batteries equipped with Aegis Ashore anti-missile systems was approved by the Japanese authorities in 2017 as a result of the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic program.
But since then there have been moments of détente in the region, with a rapprochement between Washington and Pyongyang to seek the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and this has coincided with a Japanese rethinking of the Aegis Ashore system. EFE-EPA