Japan’s Defense Ministry has just released its annual white paper – and, despite declarations made when US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12, it has not changed its assessment of the nuclear threat posed by the Pyongyang regime.
North Korea has already deployed “several hundred” Rodong ballistic missiles whose range covers almost all of Japan’s territory, The Japan Times, quoting the white paper, reported on August 28.
Furthermore, North Korea may have already succeeded in producing nuclear warheads small enough to fit on those missiles, the Defense Ministry states.
The analysis section of the 564-page white paper reflects the deep skepticism held by Japanese defense officials over the ongoing denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington – and stresses the need for Japan to introduce the new ground-based Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense system.
Developed by the United States, Aegis Ashore consists of equipment commonly used by the US Navy and deployed on land-based facilities. It is designed to intercept ballistic missiles before they reach their targets.
On April 27, South Korean President Moon Jae-in met Kim in Panmunjom on the border between the two Koreas and pledged to work for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the Japan Times reported.
The Kim-Trump summit in Singapore was meant to reconfirm that pledge, but Pyongyang has yet to take any concrete steps to dismantle any of its ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons, which has deepened skepticism among Japan’s officials and defense experts.