A Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptor belonging to the Japanese military is deployed outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tokyo on August 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Tokyo has reportedly begun deploying Patriot missile systems after North Korea threatened to target the US Pacific territory of Guam with ballistic missiles traveling over the Japanese skies.
The country’s Defense Ministry on Saturday started deploying the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system in Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi in western Japan, which Pyongyang said it could be along the flight path of its missiles, Japan’s national public broadcaster NHK reported.
It further added that the Japanese military will also deploy the anti-missile system in neighboring Ehime Prefecture covering the northwest quarter of Shikoku Island.
The country’s Kyodo news agency also cited a Defense Ministry official as saying that the government hopes to complete the deployment in western Japan by Saturday morning.
The development came after Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan for a missile strike on Guam sometime in mid-August in a drill aimed at preparing to counter a potential US military action.
The announcement came after Trump threatened to employ “fire and fury” against Pyongyang if it continues with its missile tests.
The American president continued his belligerent rhetoric against the North on Friday, tweeting, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”
Moreover, Japanese television footage showed military vehicles carrying launchers and other equipment for the anti-air missile system entering a military base in Kochi before dawn.
A Japanese Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptor is deployed outside the Defense Ministry headquarters in Tokyo on August 11, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Tokyo has not confirmed the report, but Japan has previously vowed to shoot down North Korean missiles or rockets that threaten to strike its territory.
Japan’s chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga stated earlier this week that Tokyo “can never tolerate” provocations by North Korea and that the Japanese army will “take necessary measures.”
US, South to proceed with drills
Meanwhile, South Korean officials announced on Friday that its military forces will go ahead with planned war games with their US counterparts in August despite the escalating tensions in the region amid persisting threats by Trump of resorting to military force in a bid to curb North Korea’s missile program.
The drills – code-named ‘Ulchi-Freedom Guardian’ -- are held annually, inciting outrage from North Korea, which describes the maneuvers as preparation for war.
South Korean military officials insist that the upcoming war games – which are to be conducted on August 21-31 -- were planned prior to the outbreak of the current crisis and will not be rescheduled.
According to the US State Department, about 40,000 South Korean and US troops are to take part in the exercises on land, air and sea.
Xi talks to Trump
Amid the tensions, Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed North Korea with Trump in a Saturday phone call, calling for a peaceful resolution of the issue, China’s state TV.
According to the report, Xi told his US counterpart that “words and deeds” which may fuel the crisis should be avoided, saying it is in the interest of both side to protect peace on the Korean Peninsula.
“The relevant side must at present exercise restraint, and avoid words and actions that exacerbate tensions on the Korean peninsula,” Xi said, according to the report.