Japan's additional Aegis ships could encourage further arms buildup

Japan Times -- Dec 18
Japan's decision to build two new naval vessels equipped with Aegis missile interceptors — an alternative to a scrapped plan to deploy a land-based system — could prompt further armament by potential adversaries, security experts have warned.

On Friday, the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga approved deployment of the ships and possible installment of interceptor missiles capable of countering various aerial threats, including cruise missiles.

Japan has been concerned about the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region amid a deterioration in U.S.-China relations, seeing Beijing as seeking to change the strategic status quo in the East and South China seas through force and coercion with its increasing military capability. It has been also threatened by North Korea’s missile development.

With Japan deploying additional ships with the capability to counter airborne threats, “It can be expected to have a certain effect in raising the psychological hurdle for China and North Korea to launch missile attacks,” said Tetsuo Kotani, an expert on international security at Meikai University.

But he also said such a deployment will allow China and Russia to “justify further military expansion, as they will likely criticize Japan by saying it will undermine strategic stability,” he said in an email interview.

- Japan Times