Japan Deploys Patriot Missiles in the Shadow of North Korea's Threats

Amidst recent saber-rattling by North Korea in which according to Reuters, Pyongyang re-iterated a sixty-three year old truth that North Korea and South Korea are in a “state of war” (despite a ceasefire agreement signed in 1953), neither the U.S. or its allies in the region are taking any chances. According to the The Globe and Mail, Japan has begun deploying U.S. made Patriot missiles at strategic locations throughout Tokyo in hopes of intercepting North Korean missiles should the rogue nation decide to act on its recent threats and reignite the conflict with its South Korean neighbor.

The PAC-3 Patriot missiles, were deployed Tuesday at Japan’s defense ministry headquarters and are also being deployed at bases farther away from central Tokyo. Japan was a major base of operations for U.S. troops during the 1950-1953 Korean Conflict and should hostilities flare up, will likely be a major player in any future operations. 

The move comes on the heels of North Korea's announcement that it will be test launching missiles during an upcoming series of war-games between the U.S. and South Korea, a decision by Pyongyang to withdraw 51,000 workers from a manufacturing plant run jointly with Seoul and a warning to foreign visitors to leave South Korea as soon as possible. According to the Associated Press, North Korea is believed to have moved ballistic missiles to its east coast, possibly in preparation for a test launch.

This is not the first time that Tokyo has taken evasive action to prepare for attacks in the case of a North Korean incursion into South Korea, but it does mark the first time since the anointing of a new leader, Kim Jung Un, after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il, who, according to the BBC died of a heart attack in December of 2011. Kim Jong-il was the nation's dictator from 1994, upon the death of his father until his own death  2011.

"The government is making utmost efforts to protect our people's lives and ensure their safety. As North Korea keeps making provocative comments, Japan, cooperating with relevant countries, will do what we have to do. For the moment, the most important thing is to implement sanctions under the UN Security Council resolutions," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters, according to the International Business Times.

While the whole world waits breathless to see if North Korea's new leader intends to follow through on threats or to carry on with the attention-seeking agenda of his father, one has to pause to wonder: Why is the United States carrying on war games with South Korea in the midst of threats from North Korea's new leader if not to do a little sabre-rattling of its own? 

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