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Defense Minister Taro Kono has announced suspending the planned deployment of the Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system. Kono blamed cost and technical issues for the decision, neither of which will be going away.

That gives credence to reports that suspension is soon to become cancellation, which will force a rethink of Japanese (and U.S.) plans to defend the country (and forward deployed U.S. assets) against rapidly improving missile threats. Japan should use this as a moment of opportunity for fresh and clear-eyed thinking about the nation’s defense needs; done properly, this could improve cooperation with the United States rather than damage it.

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