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Japan may deploy missiles ahead of NKorea launch

By Eric Talmadge

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 07:20 a.m. HST, Mar 21, 2012


 

TOKYO >> Japan may deploy land- and sea-based interceptor missiles ahead of North Korea's planned rocket launch next month and has not ruled out shooting down the rocket if it violates Japanese airspace, according to defense officials and media reports.

Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said Wednesday that Japan is considering how to respond to any contingencies caused by the launch, including mobilizing destroyers and deploying mobile missile launchers to areas near the rocket's planned trajectory.

North Korea has said it plans to launch a satellite into orbit. Japan, the United States and other countries claim it is also seeking to test the capabilities of its long-range missiles, in violation of international agreements.

The "Unha-3" rocket is expected to fly over western Japan — including parts of Okinawa — after it is launched from a pad on North Korea's west coast between April 14-16. That has raised concerns that a failed launch, or a falling stage of the rocket, could endanger Japanese lives or property.

Tanaka said the details of the deployments are now being worked out and refused to comment further.

But defense officials and media reports suggest Japan is likely to send three AEGIS-equipped destroyers to the Pacific and East China Sea and deploy mobile missile launchers to islands in Okinawa that are near the rocket's trajectory.

"We are considering mobilizing PAC-3 missiles to Okinawa Island, or to Ishigaki or Sakishima islands, to defend our country against any contingencies," Vice Defense Minister Shu Watanabe said Tuesday. The PAC-3 is an advanced Patriot missile.

Earlier this week, Tanaka said Tokyo has not ruled out the possibility of shooting down the rocket if it is deemed a threat and violates Japanese airspace. Japan mobilized its interceptor units and issued a similar warning to North Korea before a rocket launch in 2009, but did not follow through.

Interceptor missiles on the Japanese destroyers would serve as the first line of defense, and the land-based Patriot missiles would be a backup. Japan has successfully tested its interceptor missiles, but has never used them in a real-world situation.







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Manapua_Man wrote:
How would North Korea react if Japan fired a missile over North Korean airspace?
on March 21,2012 | 06:17AM
skosh wrote:
What's a launc?
on March 21,2012 | 07:03AM
Charliegrunt wrote:
Good for Japan. It's a good time to let the new lunatic know that he can't do anything he wants to unchecked, without possible retaliation.
on March 21,2012 | 07:29AM
SmedleyFerndock wrote:
It is foregone conclusion that Japan will sail it's Aegis destroyers during the launch. The US will also sail Aegis ships. North Korea will provide target services for training at no cost to Japan or the US. An exercise at PMRF to train Aegis crews in the acquisition and tracking of missile targets cost many millions of dollars. In the event that the NK missile goes awry then the ships will actually get to shoot it down. You can not get more realistic training.
on March 21,2012 | 08:46AM
Kuniarr wrote:
The flight of a North Korean missile over Japanese airspace would test the guts of the Japanese government against intrusion into their airspace by North Korea but also would be a good test of how the Missile Defense system of the US would work in shooting own a North Korean missile over Japanese airspace.
on March 21,2012 | 08:53AM
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