TOKYO, April 7 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel announced Sunday that he plans to deploy two additional Aegis-equipped ballistic missile defense ships to Japan by 2017 in response to North Korean provocations.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Japan alongside Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, Hagel said the decision is in line with a plan announced in October 2013 to establish a second missile defense site in Kyoto Prefecture.
"In response to Pyongyang's pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions, including recent missile launches in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, I can announce today that the United States is planning to forward-deploy two additional Aegis ballistic missile defense ships to Japan by 2017.”
The Aegis ballistic missile ships are designed to intercept ballistic missiles post-boost phase and before reentry.
On Monday, Hagel traveled to China, where he said he planned to discuss "Asia-Pacific issues, the East China Sea, the South China Sea, [China’s] neighbors [and] the continued dangerous and provocative actions of the North Koreans."
Hagel's announcement coincided with a U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit held on Monday in Washington focused on the denuclearization of North Korea.