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20 December 2017, 01:21 | Myrtle Vega
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In a statement, the Japanese government noted that North Korea's nuclear and missile development posed a new level of threat to the country.
Defence officials say two Aegis Ashore units can cover Japan entirely by using advanced missile interceptors such as SM-3 Block IIA that was jointly developed by Japan and the us, and would cost around 200 billion yen ($1.8 billion), though they have not released exact figures.
"We can not say what the final costs will be, but we will move ahead (to introduce Aegis Ashore) on the fastest possible schedule, given public calls that the government should deal as swiftly as possible and urgently with the ballistic missile defense issue", Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said at a press conference.
TOKYO-Japan formally decided on Tuesday it would expand its ballistic missile defense system with US -made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors in response to a growing threat from North Korean rockets.
Aegis Ashore is a land-based version of the Aegis combat system developed for warships, a collection of radars, computers and missiles. The deployment of these systems is explained by the sharply increased missile threat from North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has trumpeted his country's nuclear program
The systems are expected to be deployed at the proving grounds of the Japanese armed forces in the northern prefecture of Akita and in the southwestern prefecture of Yamaguchi by 2023, but the country may accelerate their deployment.
One Aegis Ashore unit is known to cost close to 100 billion yen which is about 966 billion won.
Japan's military planners also evaluated the US -built THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system before deciding on Aegis Ashore. However, the government concluded in an in-depth study earlier this year that the Aegis Ashore system is more cost effective for missile defense than THAAD.
To expedite the introduction of Aegis Ashore, the ministry plans to earmark 2.8 billion yen for information-gathering activities in the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year ending March. And without it, Japan will not be able to fully utilize the extended range of a new interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, which cost about $30 million each. North Korea test fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile late last month that could potentially reach the eastern United States.
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