Japan is considering introducing a new ground-based missile defence system to complement the interceptors it currently has, a newspaper reported on Sunday, as North Korea stokes regional tensions with recent missile launches.
Japan, which regards itself as a potential victim of any attack by nearby North Korea, strongly protested after Pyongyang fired seven ballistic missiles on Saturday, saying it was an act of provocation against regional security.
The Mainichi newspaper said on Sunday, without specifying its sources, that Japan's Defence Ministry was considering adding a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to the nation's multi-tier missile defence capability.
Japan now has Aegis-equipped destroyers carrying Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) ballistic missile interceptors and ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptors, and it is developing advanced interceptors with the United States, Tokyo's most important ally.
The SM-3 is aimed at intercepting any dangerous object outside the atmosphere and PAC-3 is aimed at lower-tier interception.
THAAD has a range of more than 100 kilometres (62.14 miles), and can defend an area about 10 times larger than the ground-based PAC-3 interceptors, the Mainichi newspaper said.
It added that 3-4 THAAD interceptors could cover almost all of Japan.