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Iran Press TV

Japan military on alert for possible N Korea missile launch: Report

Iran Press TV

Mon Aug 8, 2016 1:35PM

Japan's new Defense Minister Tomomi Inada has ordered the nation's military to be ready to destroy any missiles fired by North Korea, a local media report says.

Inada, a close confidante of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with staunchly nationalist views, issued the order without mentioning any indication that Pyongyang is preparing to launch such a missile, Japan's public broadcaster NHK reported on Monday.

Inada, previously the ruling party's policy chief, is also expected to renew the readiness order every three months so that Tokyo can seamlessly maintain a state of alert, the report added.

However, a Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman declined to confirm the report.

On August 4, Inada criticized North Korea over its military activities in the troubled region, stressing that Pyongyang "is repeating militarily provocative acts such as nuclear testing and a series of ballistic missile launches."

Inada's appointment came last Wednesday, the same day North Korea launched two intermediate-range missiles.

One of the projectiles reportedly exploded shortly after takeoff and the second landed in the Sea of Japan some 250 kilometers (155 miles) off the country's northern coast.

The launches followed a North Korean threat of "physical action" over the planned deployment of an advanced US anti-missile system in South Korea. They also came just weeks before the start of large-scale joint South Korea-US military exercises.

Tensions have been flaring in the region since January, when North Korea said it had successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb, its fourth nuclear test, and vowed to build up its nuclear program as deterrence against potential aggression from the US and its regional allies.

A month later, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket, which it said placed an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, Washington and Seoul denounced it as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.

North Korea says it will not give up on its nuclear deterrence unless Washington ends its hostile policy toward Pyongyang and dissolves the US-led UN command in South Korea. There are around 3,000 US troops permanently stationed in South Korea.

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