Japan has ordered a destroyer in the Sea of Japan to strike any ballistic missiles that may be launched by North Korea in the coming weeks after Pyongyang fired a Rodong medium-range missile over the sea, a Japanese government source said yesterday.
Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera issued the order on Thursday, but did not make it public in order to avoid putting a chill on renewed talks between Tokyo and Pyongyang, the first in more than a year, Japanese media reported earlier.
“The defense minister made the order from April 3rd through to the 25th to prepare for any additional missile launches,” the source said.
Onodera, the source said, did not deploy Patriot missile batteries, which would be the last line of defense against incoming warheads.
Media reports said the North Korean-Japanese talks in Beijing this week broke no new ground, but ended with an agreement for further meetings.
The firing of the Rodong coincided with a meeting in The Hague between US President Barack Obama and the leaders of South Korea and Japan and followed a series of short-range rocket launches.
The launch appeared to be a show of defiance by North Korea.
The missile fell into the sea after flying 650km of a maximum range thought to be about 1,300km.
Japanese Aegis destroyers in the area are equipped with advanced radar equipment able to track multiple targets and carry missiles designed to take out targets at the edge of space.