Japan to strike incoming N.Korean missiles


(AFP) – Japan’s defence chief has ordered the armed forces to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missiles that threaten to hit the country, according to media reports.

   Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera issued the order on Thursday — without  publicly announcing it — after North Korea launched two medium-range ballistic  missiles on March 26 towards the Sea of Japan (East Sea), Kyodo News and other  media said on Saturday, quoting a government source.
   A mid-range missile fired from North Korea would be capable of reaching  Japan.
   Under the order, the country’s so-called Self-Defence Forces will destroy  North Korean ballistic missiles “if any are launched and threaten to fall  within Japanese territory”, Kyodo said.
   Defence ministry officials could not confirm the reports Sunday. Japan has  issued similar orders in the past before the North launched long-range missiles.
   In response to the order, an Aegis-equipped destroyer carrying interceptor  missiles has been deployed to the Sea of Japan (East Sea), Kyodo’s source was  quoted as saying.
   The Aegis has sophisticated computer and radar technology to guide weapons  to destroy enemy missiles in flight.
   On Sunday US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said in Tokyo that his country  planned to send two more Aegis-equipped destroyers to counter the threat posed  by North Korea’s “provocative” actions including recent missile launches.
   The two ships would join five US Aegis vessels already stationed in Japan.
   The latest shoot-down order brings to five the number of similar directives  issued since 2009, the reports said, when North Korea fired a missile which it  described at the time as part of a satellite launch.