The Defense Ministry wants to buy two Aegis Ashore missile batteries from the United States and place one in Hagi, Yamaguchi Prefecture, and one in Akita Prefecture’s capital, which has about 300,000 residents (“Japan to buy advanced U.S. missile-defense radar” in the July 2 edition). Following through on this short-sighted and poorly conceived plan would earn the Abe administration medals for foolishness and arrogance to dwarf nearly all others.
First, the argument that the missile batteries are needed for defense is weak. Japan already has at least four Aegis-equipped destroyers, and the chance of Japan being attacked by a neighbor seems very remote. Moreover, the missile system failed a crucial test earlier this year.
Second, purchasing the missile batteries has more to do with pleasing U.S. President Donald Trump than with Japan’s defense: Recent news reports make this clear. Given Trump’s shifty nature and untrustworthiness, it is highly unlikely that he will go easy on Japan regarding trade imbalances and barriers even if its government pays ¥200 billion for the two units, as it intends.
Finally, there is much anxiety over, and resistance to, the planned installation of the missile batteries in both Hagi and Akita. Many homes, and no fewer than four schools, lie within 1 km of the spot in Akita where the ministry wants to place one of the missile batteries. The Liberal Democratic Party may lose its support in Akita if the ministry completes its plan. Even if the party does not care about Akita’s people, it should at least care about their votes.
In sum, Japan’s government should immediately give up on Aegis Ashore. One in seven children in Japan lives in poverty, as do about one-half of all single parent households (there are many); The money that the government wants to spend on missile batteries should be put to better use.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.