Tokyo Briefly Halts Subway Trains After North Korea Missile Test

  • Japan considers installing Aegis Ashore defense system: Kyodo
  • Deputy Prime Minister Aso chairs emergency Japan NSC meeting

Trains on Tokyo’s biggest subway were halted for 10 minutes Saturday morning after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile.

Tokyo Metro Co. Ltd. stopped services shortly after 6 a.m. as part of measures adopted this month under which services are halted after reports of a North Korean missile launch until confirming that it’s safe to operate, Kyodo News said, citing the operator. About 13,000 people were affected by the suspension.

A ballistic missile was launched shortly after 5:30 a.m. from northeast of Pyongyang, flying for about 50 kilometers before falling on North Korean land, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters. It was likely a medium-range KN-17 ballistic missile and broke up minutes after launch, the Associated Press reported, citing an unidentified U.S. official.

“Our nation resolutely cannot recognize these repeated acts of provocation by North Korea,” said Suga. Japan immediately protested to North Korea through embassy channels in Beijing, he said, adding that Japan will continue to demand restraint from North Korea by working with countries including the U.S. and South Korea as well as at the United Nations Security Council.

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso chaired a meeting of Japan’s National Security Council meeting from  8:40 a.m. to discuss the latest test. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is visiting Russia and Great Britain.

The missile test came just as Japan started a series of holidays known as Golden Week.

Missile Defense Upgrades

Japan’s Self-Defense Force is considering adopting the Aegis Ashore ground-based missile defense system produced by Lockheed Martin Co., according to Kyodo. Japan is said to favor Aegis Ashore over the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD system. Two Aegis Ashore units costing about 80 billion yen ($717 million) each can cover the Japanese archipelago while six THAAD units would need to be purchased at 125 billion yen each, Kyodo reported, citing an unidentified Japanese government official.

Neighboring South Korea is installing THAAD, drawing protests from China. Admiral Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 27 that Japan should adopt a similar system, NHK reported.

— With assistance by Maiko Takahashi

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