Japan will deploy the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air missile defense system on two Okinawa Prefecture islands to prepare for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said Monday.
The PAC-3 system will be deployed at Ground Self-Defense Force camps on the Ishigaki and Yonaguni islands. Necessary arrangements have already been made with local governments, according to Matsuno.
"We're determined to resolutely protect people's lives and their peace as we closely communicate with the United States and South Korea," Matsuno told a news conference.
"No report has been made at the moment from North Korea on the designation of restricted areas for aircraft and vessels," he added.
On Wednesday, North Korea said that its leader, Kim Jong Un, has issued an order to launch the country's first military reconnaissance satellite as scheduled. The announcement sparked concern that a long-range ballistic missile will be fired under the guise of a satellite launch.
In response to the announcement, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the SDF to make preparations to shoot down such an object if it appears likely to fall within Japan's territory.
While four PAC-3 systems have already been deployed on the main island of Okinawa, there are none on the Sakishima Islands, including Ishigaki and Yonaguni islands.
The defense minister's order will also see Maritime Self-Defense Force Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors deployed to waters surrounding Japan.
A GSDF unit has also been deployed in Okinawa to minimize damage in the event rocket debris falls to the ground.
According to Defense Ministry sources, the interception preparations are being made in the Okinawa area because North Korea in the past fired long-range rockets that it said were carrying satellites over the prefecture.