Tokyo has ordered ballistic missile defense units in the Sea of Japan and onshore to shoot down any North Korean missile that would threaten its territory.
Japan’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that it would destroy any North Korean missile if it threatened to fall on its territory, after Pyongyang announced it planned to launch a space rocket this month.
“Today the defense minister issued an order” to destroy such a missile if it “is confirmed that it will fall on Japanese territory,” the Japanese ministry said in a statement.
Defense Minister Gen Nakatani, who issued the order, cited the “possibility that North Korea will launch a missile it calls a ‘satellite’ within coming days.”
North Korea notified UN agencies on Tuesday that it is launching an earth observation satellite sometime between February 8 and 25.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his administration would work with the United States and others to urge North Korea to refrain from the launch.
South Korea also urged its northern neighbor to immediately call off the plan, saying it is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Seoul warned that North Korea would pay a “severe price” if it goes on with the plan.
China, which is viewed as one of the main backers of the government on Pyongyang, has also raised concerns about the launch, calling on North Korea to exercise restraint.
Tokyo’s Wednesday order, which will be effective until February 25, will be carried out by Japan’s ballistic missile defense system, the Japanese Defense Ministry said. The system which is stationed aboard warships includes PAC-3 surface-to-air anti-ballistic missiles, and similar SM-3 systems.