Japan intends to position warships loaded with Aegis ballistic missile defense technology in waters not far from North Korea so that it might more quickly detect any rocket firings from the rogue nation, Kyodo News reported last week (see GSN, March 30).
The decision to send the vessels close to the Yellow Sea was made following the Japanese military's inability to quickly detect the mid-April firing of a long-range rocket by Pyongyang -- despite having dispatched three Aegis destroyers to the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea.
Tokyo was concerned a North Korean rocket could travel over Japanese territory as has happened in the past. The North's Unha 3 rocket, however, broke apart shortly after liftoff.
Amid worries the North is not done launching long-range rockets or missiles, the Japanese Defense Ministry has drawn up a response plan that would also involve sending data collected by U.S. satellites to Japanese Aegis-equipped ships (Kyodo News I/Mainichi Daily News, May 30).
South Korea is not bothered by the planned fielding of the Japanese destroyers close to the Yellow Sea, Kyodo reported.
The South sees the move as being good for its own defenses, an unidentified senior South Korean presidential official told the Chosun Ilbo.
Tokyo possess double the number of Aegis ships as Seoul and any information they gather on North Korean rocket firings could be useful, according to the report (Kyodo News II/Japan Times, June 5).
North Korea on Monday strongly objected to the Japanese Aegis ship positioning plan and accused the South of "toadyism" to Washington and Tokyo (United Press International, June 4).