Japan has extended a military alert to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile, rocket or debris approaching the island nation ahead of Pyongyang’s anticipated next satellite launch.
Japan’s Defense Ministry declared on Sunday that the order for its military forces to be on high alert would remain in place “for the time being” in an apparent expectation of North Korea’s re-launch of a satellite after its first attempt failed due to a reported rocket malfunction.
According to Press TV, the development came after Pyongyang announced that it had made necessary adjustment following the first attempt and a second satellite launch would take place “as soon as possible.”
North Korea further stated that it may not issue an advance notice for the next satellite launch as it did the first time, likely sparking Tokyo’s extension of its high alert against a potential re-launch by Pyongyang.
The country’s first attempt to launch a satellite into orbit took place on May 31 amid strong objections by the US and its close regional allies South Korea and Japan, but it crashed into the sea due to what was described as a malfunctioning rocket.
Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada first issued the high alert order under the Self-Defense Force (SDF) law on May 29 after Pyongyang notified Tokyo of its plan to launch a satellite sometime between midnight on May 30 and midnight on Saturday.
The SDF has deployed Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air interceptors to its southwestern islands. In addition, Japanese Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors have been deployed to the East China Sea.
This is while the defense forces of both Japan and South Korea are totally dependent on the US military and cannot function without authorization and coordination of American forces stationed in the East Asian countries.
Meanwhile, Japan’s top government spokesman further claimed that it was possible that Pyongyang could seek to “push forward” a second launch without announcing a time frame, describing the decision to indefinitely extend the destroy order as a “reasonable” move by the Japanese SDF commanders.