Japan dispatched a destroyer after warning North Korea Thursday it would strike any ballistic missile launched by Pyongyang that it deemed a threat.
Japan's Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera issued the order, which took effect on Thursday and runs through April 25, a government source told Reuters, and dispatched a destroyer to the Sea of Japan that will fire if Pyongyang launches a missile believes may fall on Japanese territory.
The order comes after North Korea launched medium-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, prompting a retaliatory strikes by South Korea also into the sea. North Korea fired the two Rodong missiles on March 26 in an apparent show of defiance just as the United States, South Korea and Japan began discussions on how to contain North Korea's nuclear threats.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is visting Japan, said Saturday the U.S. was standing firmly by its mutual defense agreement with its ally, the Associated Press reports. There is no “weakness on the part of the United States as to our complete and absolute commitment to the security of Japan,” Hagel said.