- By Gaynor D. Daleno – For Variety
HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Japan’s defense minister on Friday visited the missile-defense system the Pentagon deployed to Guam following recurring missile-launch threats from North Korea.
Minister Tomomi Inada’s delegation wasn’t available for comment, but Japan’s media had been reporting since November that Tokyo was considering the purchase of a missile defense battery similar to the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system the Pentagon deployed to Guam more than two years ago.
North Korea threatened to launch missile attacks toward Guam and other U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including Japan and South Korea.
Inada visited Andersen Air Force Base, which hosts Global Hawk surveillance drones and B-1 bombers, and a Los-Angeles class submarine on the Navy base, said Lt. Timothy Gorman, public affairs officer for the military’s Joint Region headquarters in Guam.
The Japan government has previously sent other defense officials, including Inada’s predecessor, to see the progress of Japan government-funded projects in Guam for the relocation of almost 5,000 Marines from Okinawa.
Inada visited the Marine Corps headquarters in Guam, near Andersen. Japan is helping pay for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam.
Inada’s visit followed Secretary of Defense Ash Carter’s meeting with the minister in Tokyo last month.
Japan is paying $2.8 billion of the estimated $8.6 billion cost to reduce the presence of U.S. Marines in Okinawa and move about 5,000 of the troops and their 1,300 dependents to Guam, according to the U.S.-Japan revised agreement in 2012.
A 2009 version of the agreement would have resulted in the relocation of 9,000 Marines to Guam, but that plan was downsized after the military acknowledged in an impact study the magnitude would be too great for Guam to handle.