Japan Deploys Two Missile Destroyers Ahead of N Korea's Satellite Launch
Japan's Kirishima and Chokai guided missile destroyer ships have been deployed to the East China Sea to shoot down North Korea's alleged missile in case of a threat posed to Japan, local media said Saturday.
TOKYO (Sputnik) – The destroyer ships, recently equipped with the US-made Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, left the US Navy base in Sasebo early Saturday, the NHK public broadcaster reported.
On Tuesday, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said it had received North Korea's notification of plans to launch a satellite between February 8 and 25, with dates later changed to February 7 and 25.
North Korea's Kwangmyongsong satellite launch has sparked concern in Japan and South Korea, with South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok previously saying that Seoul would consider any of Pyongyang's satellite launches as a ballistic missile test.
The JDS Kirishima was deployed in March 2012 in response to North Korea's failed launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite, which was also alleged to be a missile test.
Tensions over North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs escalated after Pyongyang said on January 6 that it had successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test, triggering condemnation from the international community.
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