Order to intercept North Korean missiles lifted

Kyodo

The government on Friday lifted an order for the Self-Defense Forces to shoot down North Korean ballistic missiles in the event that any are launched, sources said Friday.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who issued the order April 7, formally lifted it Friday, the sources said, noting that North Korea has recently curbed its provocative action and words, and has called for holding high-level talks with the United States.

The government, which has not made the order public, won’t make the matter public even after lifting the order, the sources said.

Onodera did not refer to the lifting of the order and only said the government will continue monitoring North Korea’s actions.

Under the order, the Maritime Self-Defense Force deployed Aegis destroyers equipped with long-range SM-3 interceptor missiles in the Sea of Japan and the Air Self-Defense Force deployed a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 unit outside the Defense Ministry.

After the order is lifted, the missile unit will be removed from the ministry’s premises, the sources said.

Three-way talks in Brunei

The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and South Korea will meet Monday in Brunei on the fringes of ASEAN-related ministerial meetings, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said Friday.

“Coordination among Japan, the United States and South Korea is important when we think about the regional strategic environment,” Kishida told a news conference. “I want to make sure that this foreign ministerial meeting among the three countries will lead to close future coordination.”

The meeting will be held between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and Kishida.

The first such talks between the top diplomats of the three countries since September is expected to focus on North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.

Kishida said he is also arranging to meet bilaterally with his counterparts from the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.