Japan ramps up defense alert with plans to shoot down N. Korea missile

(From Asahi Shimbun)

By Isamu Nikaido

The Defense Ministry will deploy warships to the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea and surface-to-air missile units to two islands in Okinawa Prefecture ahead of an expected ballistic missile launch by North Korea this month.

PAC-3 Patriot missile deployed for N. Korea missile launch at Defense Ministry in Tokyo.

PAC-3 Patriot missile deployed for N. Korea missile launch at Defense Ministry in Tokyo.

The islands of Ishigakijima and Miyakojima lie under the missile’s trajectory. North Korea’s announcement that it would launch an Earth observation satellite between Feb. 8 and 25 is widely interpreted as a plan to test a long-range ballistic missile.

Defense Minister Gen Nakatani disclosed Feb. 3 that he issued an order on Jan. 28 to shoot down any missiles launched by Pyongyang. No formal announcement had been made until now because Nakatani said he didn’t want to tip Japan’s hand.

But now that North Korea has announced its launch plans and revealed the planned course, the decision was made to state how Japan would respond.

In addition to the PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles, the Defense Ministry also dispatched three Aegis destroyers carrying Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) interceptors to the Sea of Japan and East China Sea. PAC-3 missiles are already in place in the Tokyo metropolitan area as well as in Okinawa. Read more



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