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Japan greenlights missile shield as rivals sharpen spears

Two Aegis warships approved, but Tokyo opts against base-strike capability for now

Japan Self-Defense Forces soldiers walk past a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile unit.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japan signed off Friday on a revised missile defense strategy that includes building two new Aegis-equipped warships and developing long-range cruise missiles. But the government put aside a decision to approve the capability of striking missile bases before launch, raising doubts about Tokyo's ability to counter the next generation of missiles.

Japan has a two-phase missile defense approach: Aegis ship-based interceptors that target missiles in midflight, and PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles that try to shoot down such projectiles in the reentry phase. Tokyo had planned to deploy the Aegis Ashore land-based system to bolster reentry-phase defense, but that program was scrapped this year due to cost overruns and complaint from locals.

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