I was astonished when Minister of Defense Taro Kono announced on June 15 that the Ministry of Defense would suspend the planned deployment of Aegis Ashore—a land-based missile defense system—in Akita and Yamaguchi Prefectures. It was a great shock to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the country as a whole. According to the Ministry of Defense, they cited the cost and technical problems as the main reasons for the suspension, but these issues already existed at the beginning of the deployment plan and these would not justify the suspension at all.
This system had been controversial since the early planning stages. The Ministry of Defense has continued to explain the necessity of the system in an ambiguous manner to the Diet, to the US government which developed the system, and to the prefectural governments of Akita and Yamaguchi. The decision will have profound repercussions for the whole country, and yet the government has not provided any alternative solutions. Since the suspension of the system will affect the foundation of Japan’s national security, the LDP and the government should explore alternative measures, and I am depressed to see that the LDP as well as the government are still in confusion. This issue triggered off a turbulent debate at the meeting of the LDP’s National Defense Division held the other day.
The suspension of Aegis Ashore system reminds me of an old saying, ‘Do not delay to make amends for one’s wrongs’. The only thing which we can do is to make amends for our mistakes as soon as possible.