The U.S. will deploy two more new Aegis ships to Japan by 2017 to counter the missile threat from North Korea, U.S Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during a visit to the island country on Sunday.
The Aegis ships will be able to detect incoming ballistic missiles at the initial stage of their launch and intercept them with a missile of their own. They will bring the total number of U.S. Aegis ships in Japan to seven.
They will significantly bolster the defense against the ballistic missile threat to Japan and the U.S. mainland and increase deterrence against North Korean aggression, Hagel said in a press conference with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera in Tokyo.
Commenting on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's attempt to assert Japan's right to so-called collective self-defense, Hagel said, "The United States welcomes Japan's efforts to play a more proactive role in contributing to global and regional peace and stability, including reexamining the interpretation of its Constitution relating to the rights of collective self-defense."
"Collective self-defense" is a euphemism for military intervention overseas if an ally is in some way under threat.
Hagel also welcomed Tokyo's recent decision to lift long-established curbs on arms exports.