Issue Briefs

Japan’s Rethink Of Aegis Ashore Could Tie Up Navy, Increase Costs And Cause Delays

Loren B. Thompson

August 11th 2020

On June 15, Japan’s defense minister surprised Washington by suspending work on Aegis Ashore, a system designed to defend the home islands against a North Korean missile attack. Apparently Tokyo will need to craft a modified plan that minimizes the chance interceptor boosters will fall in civilian areas. That’s fine, but what it shouldn’t do is try shifting the land-based approach to sea. Defending the Japanese homeland against missile attack from warships would tie up scarce naval assets, greatly increase costs, limit growth options, and lead to multiyear delays. Aegis Ashore needs to proceed with modest adjustments, because the threat posed by North Korea is urgent. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.

The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.

Loren B. Thompson is a Senior Adviser at GPI, Chief Operating Officer of the non-profit Lexington Institute and Chief Executive Officer of Source Associates, a for-profit consultancy. Prior to holding his present positions, he was Deputy Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University and taught graduate-level courses in strategy, technology and media affairs at Georgetown. He has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Thompson holds doctoral and masters degrees in government from Georgetown University and a bachelor of science degree in political science from Northeastern University.