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Japan Deploys Missile Interceptor Near North Korea Flight Path

Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missile system is deployed at the Hakodate base of Japan's Self-Defense Forces , Sept. 19, 2017 in Hakodate, Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)
Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missile system is deployed at the Hakodate base of Japan's Self-Defense Forces , Sept. 19, 2017 in Hakodate, Japan. (Kyodo News via AP)

TOKYO — Japan on Tuesday moved a mobile missile-defense system on the northern island of Hokkaido to a base near recent North Korean missile flyover routes.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor unit was deployed at the Hakodate base on southern Hokkaido "as a precaution" as part of government preparations for a possible emergency.

The relocation came after a North Korean missile was test-fired last week and flew over southern Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific off the island's east coast — the second flyover in less than a month.

The PAC-3 was brought from another base in Yakumo town on Hokkaido, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) northeast of Hakodate. The system has a range of about 20 kilometers (12 miles).

Four more of Japan's 34 PAC-3 units, largely used to defend the capital region, were relocated to southwestern Japan recently after North Korea warned of sending missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam.

Japan currently has a two-step missile defense system. First, Standard Missile-3 interceptors on Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan would attempt to shoot down missiles mid-flight. If that fails, surface-to-air PAC-3s would try to intercept them.

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. Onodera has said a new security law passed in 2015 might allow it to shoot down a Guam-bound missile if it poses a critical security threat to Japan and its top ally, the United States.

This article was written by Mari Yamaguchi from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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