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Defense Ministry starts field survey for Aegis Ashore deployment in western Japan

JIJI

The Defense Ministry began a field survey at a Ground Self-Defense Force training area in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Monday for the envisaged deployment of the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system.

The ministry will conduct a similar survey at a GSDF training area in the city of Akita, another candidate site for the system.

It will conduct drilling surveys to study geological conditions and also survey possible effects on the health of local residents from radio waves emitted by the system in order to detect missiles.

The surveys are expected to continue until the end of February next year.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference in Tokyo on Monday morning that gaining the understanding of local residents is a precondition for deploying the system and that it is important to deal with their various concerns and requests.

As the GSDF Mutsumi training area in Hagi is located near a source of water supplied to households, many people have expressed concerns over the impact on water quality in the region from the drilling surveys. The concerns were expressed during meetings to explain the deployment plan to local residents earlier this year.

On Monday the ministry collected water at a municipal purification plant near the Mutsumi training area, which uses groundwater. The ministry also plans to survey well water at nearby households.

“As local residents have voiced various concerns, the ministry believes that the field surveys are the first step in examining whether the candidate sites are suited for the deployment of the missile defense system,” a ministry official said.