Why Japan introduces land-based Aegis?

Zhang Tao

By Wang Kejia

BEIJING, August 21 (ChinaMil) -- Japan's newly appointed defense minister Itsunori Onodera, who is paying a visit in Washington, expressed Japan's intention of introducing the land-based Aegis missile defense system to his US counterpart Mattis on August 18 and hoped for America's support and assistance.

According to Japan media, the Japanese Defense Ministry had been considering a budgetary request to conduct studies on the installation of the so-called Aegis Ashore system. The ministry also plans to budget a space unit that will be created within the Self-Defense Forces to intensify the cooperation with the US in space.

Recently Japan has stepped up military formation and deployments on the excuse of the tension on the Korean Peninsula, and accelerated the process of military integration with the US.

Experts pointed out that Japan's actions will only aggravate conflicts and bring negative effects on regional security and stability.

Before the meeting between the two defense ministers, the US-Japan“2+2” meeting of the US Secretaries of State and Defense with Japan’s Ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs was held in Washington, the first of its kind since Donald Trump took office.

Before the meeting, several Japanese media reported that the Japanese government decided to purchase the land-based Aegis missile defense system from the US, the unit price of which is more than 80 billion Japanese Yen (about USD 730 million), and Japan will also set up the space unit in its Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) to establish a new space monitoring system with the US.

At present, Japan has a two-tiered anti-missile system consisting of the PAC-3 and six ship-borne SM-3 missile defense systems. The former is a terminal anti-missile device with the range of about 20km and the height of 15km, while the latter being a midcourse interceptor with the interception range of 2,000km and the height of 1,000km and able to intercept missiles outside the atmosphere.

Previously, the Japanese government planned to introduce the THAAD anti-missile system with the unit price of more than 100 billion Japanese Yen (about USD920 million), but the extremely high cost made it turn to the land-based Aegis system with a higher PPR.

Developed by the US arms tycoon Lockheed Martin, land-based Aegis not only has a similar anti-missile capability to the ship-borne Aegis, but is also superior in maneuvering, convenient maintenance and all-weather operation.

It seems that introducing the land-based Aegis anti-missile system is just the beginning of a new round of military expansion by Japan.

In March this year, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan submitted a report to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which not only demanded to fortify Japan's anti-missile system, but also suggested lifting the ban on the ability to proactively attack enemy bases. It is reported that the new defense minister Itsunori Onodera, who took office after the Cabinet reorganization in early August, was supportive of the suggestion. At the press conference after the“2+2” meeting, Itsunori Onodera said Japan has set about formulating the new defense guideline and the five-year mid-term defense program (2019-2023), which will show Japan's new defense and equipment status.

Mainichi Shimbun revealed that the Japanese government also planned to complete the Aegis renovation program in advance and introduce a new Aegis ship fitted with SM-3 anti-missile system within the year. Moreover, Japan will allocate about 20 billion Japanese Yen in the 2018 FY budget for the development of new radar systems capable of missile detection and anti-stealth fighter performance.

Analysts said that Japan has three birds to kill by proposing to the US the large-sum military purchase order of land-based Aegis missile defense system.

It can continue to expand the military on the excuse of "crisis", deepen the Japan-US military integration and play a bigger role in their military alliance. And the Abe administration can ingratiate itself with the Trump government through the large military purchase order.

The Abe government is hyping up the "DPRK threat" on surface, but it is actually giving itself an excuse for faster military expansion, which will only aggravate Japan's conflicts with surrounding countries, said Atsushi Koketsu, an honorary professor at Yamaguchi University.


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