Japan prepares to shoot down N. Korean missiles
TOKYO — Japan deployed its Patriot missile defense system on Saturday after North Korea threatened to fire ballistic missiles over the country at the US Pacific territory of Guam, local officials and reports said.
Regional tensions mounted as Washington and Pyongyang ratcheted up their war of words, with President Donald Trump warning Pyongyang would “truly regret” any hostile action against the US.
Japan has in the past vowed to shoot down North Korean missiles or rockets that threatened to hit its territory.
The defense ministry deployed the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system in Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi in western Japan, which North Korea had warned could be along its missiles’ flight path, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News said.
It also deployed the antimissile system in neighboring Ehime, according to the reports, while the Asahi Shimbun said one maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyer was stationed in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to shoot down airborne missiles.
TV footage showed military vehicles carrying launchers and other equipment for the surface-to-air system entering a Japanese base in Kochi before dawn.
Immediate confirmation from the defense ministry was not available but an official at the crisis management office of the Kochi prefectural government said the PAC-3 had been deployed.
“While standing by 24 hours in preparation for a launch, we are calling on our residents to be on alert in case we issue emergency information,” Makoto Ebuchi added.
Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief government spokesperson, said earlier this week that Tokyo “can never tolerate” provocation from North Korea and the country’s military will “take necessary measures” to protect itself. —AFP
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