North Korea informed Japan on Monday that it will be launching a satellite into low Earth orbit over the next few days. Concerns are rising that the satellite could be the country's first spy satellite and news of the upcoming launch has caused Japan to put its missile defense systems on heightened alert amid warnings that it will shoot down any projectile that enters its airspace.
"We will take destructive measures against ballistic and other missiles that are confirmed to land in our territory," a statement from the Japanese Defense Ministry said. The ministry also noted that it would use Standard missile-3 or Patriot Missiles to destroy the rocket.
Japan is not only already working with relevant countries to persuade Pyongyang not to go forward with the rocket launch, but Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also instructed his cabinet to collect intel on the planned rocket launch.
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said that "For North Korea to go ahead with a ballistic missile launch that it is calling a 'satellite' is a serious provocation against our country's national security."
"Any launch using ballistic missile technology breaches related UN Security Council resolutions," he added.
Pyongyang has been accused in the past of using launches of Earth observation satellites as disguised missile tests.
For the low Earth orbit satellite, North Korea would have to use long-range missile technology that is banned by UN Security Council resolutions.
While no specifics have been given about the satellite used in the upcoming launch, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un viewed a spy satellite at a defense facility in recent weeks.
For its part, South Korea successfully launched its first commercial-grade satellite into orbit last week. Pyongyang has long been attempting to launch "earth observation" satellites although every attempt to date has failed, with the most recent attempted launch being in 2016, according to ZeroHedge.
Over the past 1.5 years, North Korea has increased the number of missile launches it has been conducting. More than 100 missile launches have occurred over the past 18 months, some of which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads as far as Japan, South Korea, and even the U.S.
As Pyongyang ramps up its missile testing and satellite launches, the U.S. Defense Department announced last week to Congress the Pentagon's plans to build a multi-layered air defense system in Guam in order to keep an eye on both North Korea and China.
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