The Japanese defense minister ordered the troops to activate interceptor missiles and prepare to drop shrapnel from a North Korean satellite that might fall on Japanese territory.
TOKYO – Japan’s defense minister on Saturday ordered troops to activate interceptor missiles and prepare to drop shrapnel from a North Korean satellite that might fall on Japanese territory.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said earlier this week that the first military spy satellite will be launched on an unspecified date.
North Korea has test-fired about 100 missiles since early last year, saying it was responding to joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, which it described as a rehearsal for invasion. Many of the missiles have flown over Japan or landed off the northern Japanese coast.
Last week, North Korea test-fired a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada on Saturday instructed troops to equip PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles in southwestern Japan, including Okinawa and nearby islands, in an area believed to be under the flight path of a North Korean missile that will carry the satellite.
He also ordered the deployment of destroyers equipped with SM-3 missiles from an air ship in coastal waters, according to the ministry’s statement.
“We are making the necessary preparations for a possible order to destroy ballistic missiles and other things,” the ministry said.
The order to launch the missiles must be approved by the Prime Minister.
North Korea is expected to conduct more weapons tests as the United States and South Korea continue their joint air exercises next week.
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