Japan withdraws order to intercept North Korean missiles


Japan has canceled an order for the Self-Defense Forces to prepare to intercept ballistic missiles launched toward the country from North Korea, government sources said Thursday.

The move follows a recent string of suspected missile launches that South Korea and other observers have said likely failed.

According to the sources, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani had on Monday ordered the installation of missile interceptors amid indications North Korea might be preparing for a fresh launch.

But with Pyongyang suspected to have botched the launch of a Musudan intermediate-range missile Tuesday morning, the order was canceled based on the lack of an immediate threat to Japanese territory, the sources said.

According to the sources, SDF personnel had begun removing Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided interceptors from the Defense Ministry premises in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district and two other SDF locations near the capital.

Nakatani refrained from confirming the move Thursday. Neither the order nor its cancellation was officially made public.

“We will continue to prepare for any situation and work to gather and analyze information and monitor (the situation) in order to protect the lives and property of the people,” Nakatani told reporters at the ministry.

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