Japan to test missile defense system following North Korea launches

Japan to test missile defense system following North Korea launches
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Japan will test its missile interceptor capability on Thursday, following several North Korean missile tests that have shaken the nation, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

The country’s Air Self-Defense Force will test its Lockheed Martin-made Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3), designed to shoot down missiles, at four bases in Tokyo.

The PAC-3 are meant to protect Tokyo’s metropolitan airspace.

North Korea in the past few months has launched several short- and medium-range missiles that have landed in the Sea of Japan.

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In May, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would take “specific action,” with the United States after a North Korean missile flew for around 300 miles before landing in the water off Japan’s coast.

“As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community,” Abe told reporters. “Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea.”

The United States has already in April sent a Navy carrier group to the Korean Peninsula, with Japan joining the ships for drills.

President Trump has frequently criticized North Korea for its missile tests and threatened military action.

On Tuesday, he wrote on Twitter that China has tried to help the United States solve increased tensions with North Korea, but “it has not worked out.”

And in an interview with Reuters in April, Trump said a "major, major conflict" between the U.S. and North Korea was possible, and that while he preferred a diplomatic solution, such a path would be "very difficult.”

But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in May that a war with North Korea would be “catastrophic.”

“The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on earth, which is the capital of South Korea," Mattis said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

“This regime is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea. … But the bottom line is it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat if we're not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means."