May 16, 2017
Tokyo- Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said Tuesday that the country will strengthen its missile defense capabilities, following North Korea's firing of what is believed to be a new type of ballistic missile on Sunday. At a press conference after a cabinet meeting, Inada said the missile may have flown on a lofted trajectory, meaning that it reached a higher altitude than other missiles launched by the reclusive country in the past. Interception of such a missile would be "more difficult," she said.
The Japanese government will consider introducing new defense equipment, including the Aegis Ashore ground-based missile defense system, Inada added.
The missile launched on Sunday "could be a new type with a warhead different from that of a Scud, Nodong or Musudan missile in terms of shape," Inada also said, suggesting that it resembled one of the new missiles that North Korea unveiled at a military parade last month.
Meanwhile, the Yamagata prefectural government said Tuesday an evacuation drill for residents will be held June 9 in the city of Sakata in the northeastern prefecture, under the scenario that a ballistic missile has been launched toward Japan.
Some 200 local residents are expected to participate in the drill, to be jointly held by the Sakata government, the Cabinet Secretariat and the internal affairs ministry's Fire and Disaster Management Agency.
In March, a similar drill involving locals was conducted in the northeastern city of Oga, Akita Prefecture.
The Yamagata government proposed the exercise following a series of ballistic missile launches by North Korea, officials said.
"Drilling is the maximum defense. It's important to make as much preparaions as possible to ensure the safety and security of residents in the prefecture," Yamagata Governor Mieko Yoshimura said. (Jiji Press)
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