The Defense Ministry deployed Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, missile interceptors in the city of Hakodate, Hokkaido, on Tuesday after North Korea recently fired two missiles over the southern part of the northernmost prefecture.
The surface-to-air interceptors, called Patriot Advanced Capability-3, are created to shoot down ballistic missiles before they hit a ground target if Japan’s sea-based Standard Missile-3 missiles fail to intercept them in outer space.
North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on August 29 and another on Friday.
The PAC-3, which has a range of about 20 kilometers (12 miles), was brought from another base in Yakumo town on Hokkaido, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Hakodate.
The Defense Ministry moved PAC-3 batteries to Hiroshima and three other prefectures in western Japan in August after North Korea threatened to launch ballistic missiles over the US territory of Guam.
Japan now has a two-step missile defense system. Onodera said the additional defence system was put in place because they fear that North Korea “may take further provocative actions including launching ballistic missiles that would fly over Japan again in the future”.
Japan’s Constitution, which limits the use of force to self-defense, only allows the military to shoot down missiles that are heading to Japan, or debris falling onto Japanese territory.