Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake criticized the Defense Ministry on Monday for making errors in its geographical survey that was used to select the prefecture as a candidate for hosting Aegis Ashore missile launchers.
An official of the ministry was also caught snoozing when it briefed local residents Saturday about the numerical mistakes in the elevation angles of mountains, prompting some participants to demand an apology.
(Photo taken on Jan. 18, 2019, shows the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense test complex on Kauai Island, Hawaii.)
"It's truly regrettable," Satake said during a session of the prefectural assembly, regarding the ministry's survey. "I've found the Defense Ministry's stance extremely questionable, and we're back to square one on this issue."
In Tokyo, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters, "We're very sorry. It was inappropriate as the behavior lacked a sense of alertness in such an extremely important situation."
The briefing was held Saturday and Sunday. A resident who attended on Saturday pointed out that one of the ministry officials there was dozing during the session also attended by Tohoku Defense Bureau chief Shigeki Ito.
On Sunday, Ito started the session with an apology, saying, "The official (who was caught snoozing) is deeply reflecting on himself for behaving like that at a very important place and I will also deeply apologize."
(Akita Gov. Norihisa Satake on May 27, 2019)
The ministry has said the incorrect information was released after elevation angles of mountains were calculated based on figures measured by a ruler without noticing that the scales of maps used for checking height and distance were different.
In the geographical survey released in May, the ministry checked the elevation angles at nine out of 19 candidate locations in Tohoku for possible deployment.
But the angles for all of the nine locations came out steeper than the actual ones. Areas close to high mountains that block radio waves emitted by radar are said to be undesirable for the missile system.
The Defense Ministry, which intends to deploy two batteries to counter the threat of North Korean missiles, has listed a Ground Self-Defense Force training area straddling Abu and Hagi in Yamaguchi Prefecture and another exercise area in Akita's Araya district as potential sites for the system.