'Japan brings warship home on missile fears'
Tokyo, June 29: A Japanese warship equipped with a high-tech radar tracking system has been ordered home early from naval exercises because of fears that North Korea plans to launch a ballistic missile, Kyodo news agency said today.
The destroyer Kirishima, one of four Japanese ships that boasts Aegis tracking equipment, set out for home on Wednesday from Hawaii, where it had been taking part in US-led exercises including a missile interception test, Kyodo said.
It had been scheduled to stay in Hawaii for another month, the report said.
Japan's Defence Agency declined to comment on the report.
US officials have said satellite pictures appear to show North Korea was preparing to fire a ballistic missile. Washington and Tokyo have warned of a harsh response in the event Pyongyang goes ahead with the launch.
Japan has already deployed its other Aegis destroyers in nearby waters to try to detect and track any possible missile launch, Kyodo said. The US Navy has also dispatched two Aegis vessels from the port of Yokosuka.
Neither country at present has any systems in place that could destroy a ballistic missile heading for Japan, but the United States plans to deploy the USS Shiloh, equipped with Aegis and SM-3 interceptor missiles, to Japan from August.