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Inaccuracy of missile defense system exposed

The Japanese government for the first time ordered the Self-Defense Forces to activate its missile interceptor to destroy a missile which North Korea claimed was a satellite.

On March 27, the government invoked Article 82 of the Self-Defense Forces Law to order the SDF to "destroy" any North Korean missiles. The SDF deployed two Aegis destroyers equipped with standard missiles (SM-3) in the Sea of Japan and Patriot interceptor missiles (PAC-3) in five different locations in areas near Tokyo and in northeastern Japan.

The Air Defense Command (ADC) in Tokyo's Fuchu City is tasked to order these operational units to intercept the Korean missiles.

However, on April 4, the ADC mistook something as a North Korean missile, and wrongly spread information, in Japan as well as abroad that "North Korea launched a rocket."

The "missile defense" system requires instant judgment through a complicated communication system, including information from U.S. forces.

Inaccurate judgment may have disastrous consequences as shown in the incident of April 2003 in which the U.S. PAC-3 shot down U.S. fighters by mistake during the Iraq War.

Now that inaccuracy of the "missile defense" system is clear, Japan should refrain from trying to take advantage of the present affair to reinforce this flawed "missile defense" system.

- Akahata, April 6, 2009

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