National

U.S. OKs planned $2.15 billion sale of two Aegis Ashore missile-defense systems to Japan

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

The U.S. agreed Tuesday to sell two Aegis Ashore missile defense systems and other military equipment to Japan at an estimated cost of $2.15 billion, or about ¥235 billion.

But in Yamaguchi and Akita prefectures, where the Aegis Ashore systems will likely be deployed, concerns over environmental damage and their proximity to populated areas could make their planned deployment in fiscal 2023 challenging.

It was announced that the U.S. State Department had approved the sale in a statement posted by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency. The agency the same day notified the U.S. Congress, which is expected to formally approve the sale.

The agency said the list of requests from Japan included not only the two Aegis Ashore systems but also radio navigation equipment, naval ordnance, and two Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) systems.

The $2.15 billion price tag includes U.S. government and contractor representatives’ technical, engineering and logistics support services, installation support material, training and construction services for six vertical launch system launcher module enclosures. Communications equipment and associated spares, classified and unclassified publications and software, and other related elements of logistical and program support are also part of the total estimated cost.

“This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region. It is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Japan in developing and maintaining a strong and effective self-defense capability,” the agency said in its statement.

The prime contractor for the Aegis Ashore system is Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems in Washington.

There was no immediate comment on the sale from Yamaguchi Gov. Tsugumasa Muraoka or Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake, officials from both prefectures told The Japan Times.

Opposition in and around the planned Aegis Ashore site in the Abu district of Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, is due to a number of factors, including fears of environmental pollution to the water table that irrigates the surrounding farmland and of the health effects on local residents of the Aegis radar system.

In the city of Akita, where the planned Aegis site is only a few kilometers from the city center and only a few hundred meters from residential neighborhoods, the worries are more about the proximity of a missile base to a crowded urban center. Even local ruling party politicians who support the idea of Aegis Ashore question the wisdom of placing it so close to the city.