Japan Deploys Missile Interceptor 09/19 06:02
TOKYO (AP) -- Japan on Tuesday moved a mobile missile-defense system on the
northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said a Patriot Advanced Capability-3
interceptor unit was deployed at the Hakodate base on southern Hokkaido "as a
precaution" as part of government preparations for a possible emergency.
The relocation came after a North Korean missile was test-fired last week
and flew over southern Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific off the island's east
coast --- the second flyover in less than a month.
The PAC-3 was brought from another base in Yakumo town on Hokkaido, about 80
kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Hakodate. The system has a range of about 20
kilometers (12 miles).
Four more of Japan's 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital
region, were relocated to southwestern Japan recently after North Korea warned
of sending missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.
Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system. First, Standard
Missile-3 interceptors on Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan would attempt to
shoot down missiles mid-flight. If that fails, surface-to-air PAC-3s would try
to intercept them.
Japan's Constitution, which limits the use of force to self-defense, only
allows the military to shoot down missiles that are heading to Japan, or debris
falling onto Japanese territory. Onodera has said a new security law passed in
2015 might allow it to shoot down a Guam-bound missile if it poses a critical
security threat to Japan and its top ally, the United States.