TOKYO, Nov. 1, Kyodo — Japan has decided to extend by three months an order to its Self-Defense Forces to remain ready to shoot down potential ballistic missiles launched from North Korea, a Japanese government source said Tuesday.
The order, issued Aug. 8, is set to expire early this month, the source said.
The decision to maintain intercept capability at all times was apparently based on Pyongyang’s recent suspected use of mobile launching pads for ballistic missiles, making launch preparations hard to detect.
The government had previously issued intercept orders on a case-by-case basis when it picked up on signs a launch was imminent.
The Defense Ministry does not make public the issuing or cancellation of the orders, which under the SDF law are given in response to either a recognized threat that a projectile could reach Japanese territory or an unspecified threat in volatile circumstances.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada refrained from commenting on specific actions Tuesday, saying only that the ministry is “taking the appropriate measures.”
“If we make clear the specific measures we are taking, we run the risk of showing our hand,” Inada told a press conference.
The first known intercept order was given in 2009, when Pyongyang fired a missile ostensibly to launch a satellite into Earth’s orbit.