Japan has placed its ballistic missile defenses on high alert following North Korea’s announcement of a planned satellite launch.
The Japanese government has vowed to take immediate action and shoot down any missile that poses a threat to its territory.
The launch, scheduled between May 31 and June 11, has raised concerns due to North Korea’s previous actions involving missile launches and weapons tests, including the recent test of a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile.
The satellite launch is believed to be part of North Korea’s broader surveillance technology program, which includes drones, aimed at enhancing its ability to strike targets during wartime.
Experts anticipate that the rocket carrying the satellite will pass over Japan’s southwestern island chain, replicating a similar incident that occurred in 2016.
To counter the potential threat, Japan’s defense ministry has expressed its readiness to take “destructive measures” against any ballistic or other missiles confirmed to land in its territory.
The country intends to employ its Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) or Patriot Missile PAC-3 systems to intercept and destroy any North Korean missile.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida emphasized that a North Korean missile launch would flagrantly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions denouncing the country’s nuclear and missile activities.
The Prime Minister’s office took to Twitter, urging North Korea to refrain from proceeding with the launch. Japan also pledged its cooperation with the United States, South Korea, and other nations in collecting and analyzing information related to the launch.
South Korea has echoed Japan’s concerns, labeling North Korea’s plan as “illegal” and calling for its cancellation.
The South Korean foreign ministry warned of consequences and expressed readiness to collaborate with Japan and the U.S. in formulating a united response by the international community.
Notably, the South’s recent successful launch of a domestically made space rocket carrying a commercial-grade satellite adds weight to their objections against North Korea’s activities.
Despite these diplomatic efforts, experts believe that Tokyo and Seoul have limited leverage over Pyongyang and that their calls to halt the launch may have minimal impact.
Chad O’Carroll, CEO of Korea Risk Group, which closely monitors North Korea, highlighted the likelihood of North Korea perceiving South Korea’s critique as hypocritical, especially given the ongoing major military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea and the South’s recent satellite launch.
In preparation for the launch, Japan has deployed its SM-3 interceptors in the East China Sea and positioned PAC-3 missiles in the Okinawan islands, capable of striking warheads closer to the ground.
The Japanese government acknowledges the possibility of the satellite passing through its territory and remains vigilant.
North Korean state media has criticized Japan, South Korea, and the United States for their intention to share real-time data on missile launches, portraying their collaboration as a plot to bolster military cooperation against North Korea.
These remarks reflect North Korea’s growing discontent with the regional security landscape.
As tensions rise and preparations for the satellite launch progress, the international community closely watches North Korea’s actions and the potential ramifications they might entail.