TOKYO – Japan approved on Tuesday the incorporation of two land-based Aegis missile interceptors due to North Korea’s growing military clout, a spokesperson of the Japanese Defense Ministry confirmed to EFE.
The government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has authorized the purchase of two units of the United States-made Aegis Ashore for its ground forces.
Japan already has Aegis systems installed in several destroyers of its Maritime Self-Defense Forces.
In order to streamline the deployment of these systems, which are expected to be ready “as soon as possible,” the defense ministry has planned to allocate a part of the supplementary budget for this year and increase by 730 million yen ($6.49 million) its record budget of 5.26 billion yen requested for 2018.
On Friday, the Japanese government is expected to approve a draft of the general budget for the country for next year.
It remains to be decided where they will deploy the two anti-missile units, through which Japan seeks to cover the security of its entire territory, where until now the only land-based missile defense system deployed was the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3).
The last units of the PAC-3 were deployed in Hokkaido Island (north) in September, in response to two North Korean missiles that flew over the region – one in the same month and another at the end of August – before falling into the ocean.
The most recent weapons launch by North Korea occurred in November, when the Kim Jong-un regime tested it most advanced intercontinental missile to date.
Although the Japanese Constitution establishes that Japan can only have defensive military capabilities, the conservative government under Abe has pushed for its reinterpretation in order to bolster its defenses.
Since Abe came to power around the end of 2012, Japan’s defense budget has increased annually in a sustained manner over constant tensions in the Korean peninsula, North Korea’s widening defense arsenal and territorial disputes with China.