TOKYO, Aug. 8 (UPI) — Japan has ordered its Self-Defense Forces to intercept and destroy incoming flying objects after North Korea fired a ballistic missile last week that landed in Tokyo’s exclusive economic zone.
The command issued on Monday is to apply to all incoming projectiles, South Korean news service Newsis reported.
The directive is to be in effect for the next three months.
But according to Japanese press reports the command is to be updated every three months, signifying the policy is more than a temporary measure designed to respond to North Korea provocations.
Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force has already installed the anti-missile defense system Patriot Advanced Capability or PAC-3. SM-3 missile interceptors have been placed on Aegis destroyers, according to Japanese media.
Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada had earlier instructed Japan’s SDF to track North Korea missile launches, Kyodo news agency reported.
Increased North Korea provocations in recent months are raising concerns in South Korea about the prospects of a fifth nuclear test.
The fears are being stoked weeks after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had accused Seoul of “undermining the foundations of mutual trust” with Beijing after Seoul announced a decision to deploy THAAD.
South Korea-China relations have quickly soured over THAAD and China is reviewing its North Korea policy.
Threats may also occur Aug. 22-26 when U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises are expected to take place, News 1 reported.