National / Politics

Japan rejects Russian criticism of Aegis Ashore deployment plan

JIJI

Tokyo has rejected Moscow’s claim that the Aegis Ashore missile defense system Japan plans to deploy violates the U.S.-Russia Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya responded to a recent remark by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the land-based system violates the INF treaty because it can be used to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles for attacks.

“Japan will introduce (the systems) to intercept ballistic missiles,” Iwaya told a news conference Friday. “Russia’s argument is not appropriate.

“The systems will not be equipped to launch cruise missiles,” he said. “It’s possible to add the capability to deal with cruise missiles but we are not considering doing so.”

He also said Tokyo is not a signatory to the treaty.

Washington has expressed its intention to pull out of the pact. Moscow responded by making a similar announcement.