SEOUL, May 29 (UPI) — Japan said Monday that it will shoot down North Korean missiles that enter its territory after Pyongyang notified Tokyo of its plan to launch a satellite between May 31 and June 11.
“In order to prevent damage to human life and property … we will implement destructive measures against ballistic missiles and other missiles that have been confirmed to fall on our territory,” Japan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry issued the order to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces after North Korea notified Tokyo of a plan to establish a maritime danger zone during the May 31-June 11 launch period.
Japanese forces will use Patriot PAC-3 missiles stationed on islands around Okinawa or Aegis-equipped warships to destroy the missiles, the ministry said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Tokyo’s top spokesman, said at a press conference Monday that Japan considered North Korea’s satellite announcement a pretext for launching a ballistic missile and would take action accordingly.
“North Korea’s forced launch of a ballistic missile purported to be a ‘satellite’ is a serious provocation to Japan’s security,” Matsuno said. “Such launches also violate relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions that prohibit any launches using ballistic missile technology by North Korea, even if they are called ‘satellites.'”
Japan will work with the United States and South Korea to urge the North to refrain from provocative actions and comply with Security Council resolutions, he added.
A launch has been believed imminent since North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the secretive regime’s first completed military reconnaissance satellite earlier this month and “approved the future action plan” for its deployment.
North Korea has announced a handful of satellite tests over the past several years, including the launch of a device that took low-resolution aerial photos of South Korea in December. In February of last year, the secretive regime also claimed it tested a reconnaissance satellite, but Seoul and Washington said it was cover for ballistic missile testing.
North Korea’s Kim called the launch of a spy satellite “an urgent requirement of the prevailing security environment of the country,” and has condemned the expansion of joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States.
Last week, the allies staged their largest-ever combined live-fire drill at a training site just miles from the inter-Korean border.
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