United States sells $ 133 million anti-ballistic missiles to Japan

Andrew Cummings
January 12, 2018

The State Department on Tuesday asked Congress to approve the $133 million sale of the four missiles and related hardware, which can be launched from destroyers at sea or from a land-based system.

The department says the sale will support the American defense industry and underscores Trump's commitment to improve the defense of allies threatened by North Korea. It ramped up its missile activity previous year, firing ballistic missiles that repeatedly landed in the Sea of Japan, raising concerns in Tokyo. After its latest ballistic missile test on November 28, Pyongyang claimed that its new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-15, is able to strike the whole U.S. mainland. This would boost the number of interceptors available to counter a volley of missiles launched by North Korea.

And while North Korea and South Korea have agreed to hold talks with each other, Minister Onodera said this does not change Japan's current stance.

"We would like to develop (the system) into a basic infrastructure that will be helpful in comprehensive missile defense and can (intercept) cruise and other kinds of missiles", he told reporters after visiting the facility on the island of Kauai.

Japan will use a new missile interception system on its two destroyers, equipped with U.S. Aegis missile defense systems between 2019 and 2020, local media reported on Thursday, citing sources in the government.

In late December, Japan's Cabinet approved its budget plan for fiscal 2018, with a record-high defense spending.

In fiscal 2021, Japan will start deploying new SM-3 Block IIA interceptors with a range of about 2,000 kilometers - triple the range of SM-3 missiles. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova warning that the deal could undermine bilateral relations "including negotiations on a peace treaty" that has not been concluded between Russia and Japan since WWII.

The sale comes on the heels of the Japanese National Diet's approval of a plan to build an Aegis Ashore missile defense system (the National Diet is Japan's parliamentary-style bicameral legislature).

Washington, however, brushed off Moscow's criticism, saying that it in "full compliance" with the agreement while, in turn, accusing Russian Federation of breaching it.

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