JDS Kongo letting fly SM-3. U.S. Navy photo.

Japan is still pressing ahead with plans to procure the SM-3 Standard Block IIA missile system. Apparently Japan has sunk $1 billion dollars into the program so far, which is a fair chunk of change. The missiles are to arm Japan’s Kongo-class destroyers. Two or three destroyers can reportedly protect all of Japan, which makes sense when you figure that each missile has a 500km range. 3 ships = 3,000km of coverage.

Japan is serious about missile defense. Missile defense is becoming one of those high technology weapons systems that Japan is using to make itself stand out from the rest of Asia. Does North Korea have BMD? No. Does South Korea? No. Not even China. Anyone can launch a ballistic missile–look at North Korea. The hard part is shooting one down.

Here’s an question: why is Japan putting it’s best ABMs on ships? Ships sink–something that Japan should know all too well. An enemy could sink all four Japanese Aegis destroyers, and given Japan’s pacifist nature, even that might not be enough to goad the country to war. In the meantime, the top tier ABM system has been taken out of action and the country is even more vulnerable.

Wouldn’t it better to put the missiles in hardened silos on land, where a strike against them would be on Japanese territory? The missiles could be widely dispersed, making destroying all of them in one blow all the more difficult. Say three locations: the Ryukus, Honshu, and Hokkaido. That would cover the entire country.

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A contributor and editor at the blog War Is Boring, Kyle Mizokami started Japan Security Watch in 2010 to further understand Japan's defenses and security policy.
Kyle Mizokami has 536 post(s) on Japan Security Watch