The relevant decision was made during the Cabinet’s meeting, the NHK broadcaster reported.
These Aegis Ashore systems are supposed to be equipped with a new type of interceptor missiles developed jointly by Japan and the United States. The two systems, which will be deployed at the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force facilities in northern Akita and southwestern Yamaguchi prefectures, will be capable of covering the entire country, according to the broadcaster.
The media outlet noted that the purchase price of each system will be less than 100 billion yen ($888 million), and the government is planning to include an additional 2.8 billion yen ($25 million) and 700 million yen ($6.2 million) in its draft budget for the 2018 fiscal year to cover the cost of technical assistance from the United States and the systems' basic design. The government hopes that the systems will become operable by the 2023 fiscal year.
Japan is currently protected by destroyers equipped with US Aegis missile defense systems as well as surface-to-air Modernized Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) ballistic missile interceptors.
Meanwhile, Japan is reportedly mulling over the introduction of the so-called Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) system, capable of intercepting both ballistic and cruise missiles, which, however, if integrated, may trigger a breach of Article 9 of the country's Constitution, forbidding the use of force in a manner integrated with other countries.
The enhancement of the defense sector has been the new trend in Japan over the last several years because of the heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula being escalated by North Korea's missile tests.