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Japan to install land-based missile defense Aegis Ashore

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan to install land-based missile defense Aegis Ashore
The Japanese administration of Shinzo Abe is expected to discuss the deployment of Aegis Ashore with U.S. officials on Thursday. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Japan is planning to deploy a land-based Aegis missile defense system to counter North Korea's growing missile provocations.

Tokyo, wary of Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development programs, said Japan must now contend with "a new level of threat," Kyodo News reported Thursday.

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The decision to deploy a land-based component of a missile interceptor system, the Aegis Ashore, had been made in June.

Plans are being expedited following two tests of what North Korea has claimed is its intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14.

Japan's new Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera and Foreign Minister Taro Kono are to explain the strategy to their U.S. counterparts on Thursday, according to the Japanese news service.

The Aegis Ashore uses components identical to those currently found on Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force's Aegis destroyers.

The destroyers are equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors that could stop incoming rockets in the outer atmosphere.

Japan's multitier ballistic missile defense system also includes the Air Self-Defense Force's Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided interceptors, which will deter missiles if SM-3 interceptors fail to stop the attack.

Following North Korea's statements on its potential to launch four ballistic missiles that could create an "enveloping fire" around the U.S. territory of Guam, Japan recently deployed the Patriot Advanced Capability or PAC-3 interceptor unit to four prefectures in western Japan.

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Tokyo also wants to increase the number of Aegis destroyers to five, according to the report.

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