A US soldier in front of the defence base for the Aegis system developed by the US navy. Photo: AFP/Kay Nietfeld/dpa

The US State Department has approved a sale to Japan of two AEGIS Weapon Systems, two multi-mission Signal Processors and two Command and Control Processor Refreshers and related equipment, according to a statement the Defense Security Cooperation Agency posted on its website on January 29.

The deal is worth US$2.15 billion, and the agency has delivered the required certification of the possible sale to Congress. According to the statement, “the proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy of national security of the United States by improving the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in the Asia-pacific region” and the sale will also “provide the Government of Japan with an enhanced capability against increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile threats.”

The statement did not identify those threats, but Japan’s main concerns continue to be the expanding military power of China and North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs.

At the end of December, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a new 10-year defense plan, pledging to spend $240 billion over the next five years on the country’s Self-Defense Forces.

Japan’s 2018 National Defense Program Guidelines point out the “massive and rapid reclamation in the South China Sea” which has created “a military flashpoint” where China continues its “intensive air and maritime operations.”

According to a December 20 blog post on the Council of Foreign Relations website, “Japan is deeply worried about the military balance in Northeast Asia and is doing what it can to make sure its military is ready for conflict and to ensure the United States remains committed to its security.”

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