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Japan’s missile defense poses no threat to Russia, top diplomat says

March 21, 10:50 UTC+3 TOKYO

Japan's missile defense planis aimed at protecting the lives of the country’s people, according to Taro Kono

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Russian and Japanese Foreign Ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono

Russian and Japanese Foreign Ministers, Sergey Lavrov and Taro Kono

© Alexander Shcherbak/TASS

TOKYO, March 21. /TASS/. Japan’s missile defense poses no threat to neighboring countries, including Russia, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Wednesday following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

"As for our missile defense plan, it is purely defensive and aimed at protecting the lives of our country’s people," he said. "Our country is independent in making decisions concerning its use. It poses no danger to our neighboring countries, including Russia," Kono said.

Lavrov, in turn, said that Moscow had put some questions before Tokyo, which concerned the deployment of US missile defense systems to Japan.

"While talking about strategic stability, we have once again drawn the attention of our Japanese counterparts to the need to find joint solutions in this field and work together… to ensure global parity," he said. "In this regard, we reiterated our stance on the US plans to deploy its global missile defenses and Japan’s intention to join those plans," Lavrov added.

On December 19, 2017, Japan’s government made a decision to expand the country’s missile defense shield with two US-made Aegis Ashore missile defense systems, which are planned to be deployed to the north and southwest of the country’s main Island of Honshu tentatively in 2023 to help ensure security from possible ballistic and cruise missile attacks. These systems will cost Japan about 100 bln yen ($889 mln) each.

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova earlier said that the deployment of the Aegis Ashore missile defense systems to Japan would negatively affect relations between Moscow and Tokyo, including dialogue on the peace treaty issue. She pointed out that "the focal point of the dispute is the Mk-41 launchers… that can be regarded as cruise missile launchers." According to Zakharova, the step would be a violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).

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