Under pressure, Japan eases military alert level against North Korea
Tokyo, July 3: Despite its government' concern over the persistent nuclear threat from North Korea, Japan has lessened its military preparedness level in the wake of the nuclear negotiations undertaken by its ally - the US - with Pyongyang, AFP cited a report, which in turn citied several unnamed close sources, as saying on Sunday, July 1.
It said Japan was under pressure to soften its hardline defence against North Korea after US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore on June 12.
Japan's reputed daily Asahi Shimbun said that last week, Tokyo's Self Defense Forces dropped their programme to always keep Aegis warships deployed in the Sea of Japan to detect and intercept incoming missiles, the AFP report added. However, the daily report said that the Japanese forces will be ready to intercept missiles that are detected through spy satellite images.
Japanese officials also told the daily that Tokyo made the move after Washington also lowered its preparedness level in the Indo-Pacific region, AFP said, adding that Japan has also suspended public evacuation drills as a probable response against a North Korean missile attack, AFP added.
Japan has not been a direct party to the latest negotiations that have been undertaken with North Korea by a number of powers - global and regional - and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who tried to convey Japan's position
As concern has grown in Tokyo about Japan being left on the sidelines in the diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, hawkish Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month said that his government has approached Pyongyang to arrange a summit with Kim.
China and South Korea, the other two countries in the region that have concerns over North Korea, have favoured a softer approach towards Pyongyang. However, latest reports that the North is still secretly keeping some of its nuclear stockpile have raised fresh worries over the denuclearisation process.
Japan picks Lockheed Martin radar for missile defence system
Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Tokyo has picked Lockheed Martin Corp.' advanced radar for its multibillion dollar missile defence system, citing one of Japan's defence ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
According to the report, Japan has planned to buy two Aegis Ashore batteries that it eyes to deploy in 2023 to upgrade its missile defence system to avoid trade friction with Washington besides giving protection against North Korean and Chinese threats.
Last week, Reuters reported that the candidates for the radar included: Raytheon Co.'s SPY-6 and a version of the Lockheed Martin Long Range Discrimination Radar.