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Politics

Japan tests health risk of new Aegis defense radar

Locals fear disruption from missile-detecting radio waves deployed ashore

Aegis Ashore is a land-based system that defends against incoming missiles. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy)

TOKYO -- Japan's Defense Ministry begins tests in March for any health risks posed by the Aegis Ashore missile shield at two candidate sites for the defense system, hoping to allay local concerns.

The first test starts Friday at the Ground Self-Defense Force's Araya exercise field in Akita Prefecture, with the second set for March 11 at the Mutsumi field in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Both sites are near Japan's western coast, which faces toward the Korean Peninsula.

Using radar attached to midrange missiles, the GSDF will generate radio waves in the S-band, the same range of frequencies to be used by the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore, which some worry could cause health problems or disrupt communications systems. Local governments will be notified of the findings as early as April.

The Defense Ministry plans to deploy an Aegis Ashore unit to each site, operational by fiscal 2023.

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