Japan has dismissed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s concerns that the United States could use Japan’s Aegis Ashore missile system to attack other states in this region.
A spokesman for Japan’s Foreign Ministry told Russian news agency Tass that Japan’s missile systems are essentially defensive in nature and don’t pose threat to any country in the neighborhood, including Russia. The spokesman also said that Japan has full control over its missile systems.
“The country’s missile systems are aimed at protecting people’s lives and property and are purely defensive,” the Japanese spokesman said.
The diplomat also revealed that Japan wants to solve the dispute with Russia over the Kuril Islands and is planning to hold talks with the Russian authorities in coming days.
On Monday, Sergey Lavrov had raised concerns that the Aegis Ashore system, developed in the U.S., could be used for offensive purposes after the system is deployed in Japan. Lavrov said that the U.S. might have full access to this missile system in Japan.
Lavrov was interacting with reporters during his annual news conference in Moscow. He said there is no example of the U.S. giving full control of its weaponry systems to the host country where such systems are deployed. Lavrov added that there is no possibility that the U.S. would make an exception in this case.
The Russian foreign minister also stated that the deployment of Aegis Ashore in Japan may cast a shadow over Russia–Japan relations. Lavrov urged the Japanese government to provide more credible data to Russian agencies through the Japanese National Security Council to clear doubts on this issue.
Last year, the Japanese government decided to acquire two Aegis Ashore systems from the U.S. to expand its missile defense system and to protect its people from ballistic missiles coming from enemy states. The decision was taken amid growing security threats from North Korea.
The Aegis Combat System (ACS), a part of the U.S. national missile defense strategy, has been developed to provide missile defense against ballistic missile attacks. Aegis Ashore is the land-based version of the proven ACS and is based on the cornerstones of the ACS’s Baseline 9 configuration.
According to Tass, two Aegis Ashore missile systems will be stationed in Japan’s southeastern prefecture Yamaguchi and northern prefecture Akita by 2023 or earlier. The country is also planning to acquire four SM-3 Block 2A missiles for these systems.