Aegis Ashore Cancellation: The Snowball Effect on Japan’s Defense Policy

The cancellation will trigger a rethink of Japan’s overall defense policy documents—on a severely truncated timeline.

Part of the US-Japan Alliance Project

This article was originally published in The Diplomat Magazine (Issue 68).

On June 15, Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono announced that he had decided to “suspend” the deployment plan for Aegis Ashore. His decision was endorsed on June 25 by Japan’s National Security Council, which moved to officially cancel the program. Kono said that Japan’s government will continue discussing alternative ways to defend the country from missile attacks.

“We couldn’t move forward with this project, but still there are threats from North Korea,” he said.

Kono’s decision on June 15 seems to have triggered a much larger development in Japan’s defense policy. In addition to launching a reassessment of Japan’s ballistic missile defense (BMD) needs—which will take place over the next two months, so that the adjustment can be incorporated into the budget request for FY 2021-2022 by the Japan Ministry of Defense (JMOD)—Japan now seems to be moving forward with the revision of its National Security Strategy (NSS). Given that the acquisition of Aegis Ashore was one of the key elements in the current National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and Mid-Term Defense Program (MTDP), the revision of these two documents will also be inevitable.

Read the full article in of The Diplomat Magazine.

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