10 January 2017
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said she planed to travel the US territory of Guam on Thursday in order to see the newest Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in a search of better defense capabilities against the North Korean nuclear threat.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — During the two-day trip, the minister will see the THAAD battery installed at the Andersen Air Force Base, the news outlet added, noting that the defense chief would also try to discuss the issue of removing the US base in Japan's Okinawa prefecture to the Pacific island.
"The Defense Ministry has no concrete plan to introduce THAAD at this stage, but the installation of this kind of new asset can be one of the measures to reinforce our capabilities," Inada said at a press conference on Tuesday, as quoted by the Kyodo news agency.
The Guam system was deployed in 2013 in response to North Korean Hwasong-10 intermediate-range ballistic missile tests.
THAAD is seen as an important means of defense against North Korea by South Korea as well. In July, Seoul and Washington agreed to deploy a THAAD battery in South Korea's Seongju County. The Guam battery has been displayed to South Korean representatives in the same month.
The THAAD system is designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles at the terminal incoming stage. The US-South Korean move has been criticized by neighboring China and Russia as inappropriate, possibly disproportionate and affecting other countries' interests.
The situation on the Korean peninsula has become more heated over recent
months, with North Korea escalating its ballistic missile and nuclear tests
and the United States ramping up its military presence in South Korea.