|CGI of an Aegis Ashore Missile Defense System|
By: Aaron Mehta
WASHINGTON — Japan is seeking new missile defense assets in light of the North Korean threat, while also looking at ways to expand a 2015 defense agreement with the United States.
Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking Thursday at the State Department following a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, said that the threat from Pyongyang is driving Japan to look to accelerate certain defense decisions.
Among those changes is an increased focus on missile defense capabilities. In his opening comments, Onodera, speaking through a translator, said “we will continue to promote cooperation in ballistic missile defense, including acquisition of new assets,” a signal that the Japanese government would consider adding to its defensive capabilities.
While nothing official was announced during the 2+2, the Japan Times newspaperreported shortly before the event that officials expect to procure an Aegis Ashore missile defense system. The same report, citing government sources, said the Ministry of Defense is pushing to speed up planned procurement of another Aegis destroyed.
Japan currently has missile defense systems aboard its Aegis class ships, along with Patriot systems on the ground. If Japan sought the Aegis Ashore system, it would join Romania and, by 2018, Poland as partner nations using that design.
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