Japan Begins Work to Deploy PAC-3 in Okinawa

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A fuel tanker vehicle arrives at New Ishigaki Airport, transported by an Air Self-Defense Force cargo plane, on Sunday.

TOKYO (Jiji Press)—The Defense Ministry on Sunday began work to additionally deploy the Air Self-Defense Force’s Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, surface-to-air missile defense system in Okinawa Prefecture.

The move came after Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the SDF on Saturday to make preparations to shoot down a North Korean ballistic missile should it appear likely to fall within Japanese territory.

“We’ll make coordination with local governments and deploy the system in locations where it is needed,” a Defense Ministry official said. “We’ll be thoroughly prepared.”

The PAC-3 system is expected to be newly deployed in Okinawa’s Sakishima Islands, over which a North Korean ballistic missile is widely expected to fly. Miyako and Ishigaki islands are part of the Sakishima island chain.

While four PAC-3 systems have already been deployed on the main island of Okinawa, there are none on the Sakishima Islands.

North Korea said that its preparations to launch a military spy satellite will be completed by the end of this month. On Wednesday, the country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has issued an order to launch the satellite as scheduled.

Also based on the Japanese minister’s order to prepare to destroy ballistic missiles, Maritime SDF Aegis destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors will be deployed in waters surrounding Japan and a Ground SDF unit will be deployed in Okinawa to prepare for taking measures to minimize damage in case missile parts fall to the ground.