Japan confirms scrapping deployment of multibillion-dollar US missile defense system | Daily Sabah – Daily Sabah

Japan has scrapped the deployment of a multibillion-dollar U.S. anti-missile system, the government confirmed Thursday, days after saying the program had been suspended.

Interceptors for the Aegis Ashore system were to be placed in two regions under the costly and controversial program.

But the government reversed course under pressure from local residents concerned about the risks posed by a missile defense system in their backyard.

“The National Security Council discussed this matter and reached the conclusion that the deployment of Aegis Ashore in Akita and Yamaguchi is to be rescinded,” Defense Minister Taro Kono told a meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

“I want to deeply apologize that it has come to this,” he said.

Later Thursday, Kono said Tokyo and Washington were discussing how to fend off missile threats from Pyongyang after dropping the defense system plan.

“There’s a threat coming from North Korea,” Kono told reporters.

“We have been talking with the United States on how to improve our ballistic missile defense capability or integrated air-missile defense capability,” he added.

“So we are trying to make maximum use of what we have contracted with the United States,” Kono said.

The government had originally guaranteed that interceptor missile gear would not land in residential areas near where the system was based.

But last week, when initially announcing that deployment of the system had been suspended, Kano said maintaining that promise would require a costly and time-consuming hardware upgrade.

The Aegis Ashore system, the purchase of which was approved in 2017, was estimated to