The price of peace: Why Japan scrapped a $4.2bn US missile system

The price of peace: Why Japan scrapped a $4.2bn US missile system

  • Washington and Tokyo have been allies for 60 years.
  • Both agree they’re spending too much

TOKYO — Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono was seething after a June 3
briefing in his office. “Why didn’t you figure that out sooner?” he snapped.

Officials had just learned of a critical flaw in a U.S.-made missile defense
system that would derail a multibillion-dollar defense deal.

Three years previously, Japan had decided to buy the $4.2 billion system,
known as Aegis Ashore, amid a fusillade of missile launches by North Korea —
not to mention veiled threats by U.S. President Donald Trump that its allies
should spend more on their defenses, and buy American.

But now the Department of Defense was saying it would cost 200 billion yen
($1.89 billion) and take 12 years to fix a problem with the Aegis booster rocket,
the one that Japanese officials had just discovered.