Tokyo: The US will deploy two more destroyers equipped with anti-missile systems in Japan prior to 2017 in response to the recent provocations by North Korea, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday.
In response to North Korea`s "pattern of provocative and destabilising actions" that violate UN resolutions, Hagel - at a Tokyo press conference with Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera - said that Washington will move to provide more protection against those threats, raising the size of the US anti-missile fleet deployed in Japan to seven.
Washington`s decision comes after the North Korean regime on March 26 launched two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles.
UN Security Council resolutions expressly prohibit Pyongyang from launching any missiles with ballistic capabilities or using such technology.
The Japanese government last Thursday - without making it public until a day later - activated the existing protocol to neutralise possible missiles fired from North Korea, a move that includes deploying the destroyer Kirishima, which is equipped with the Aegis missile interception system, in the Sea of Japan.
After a period of relative calm, tensions in the region have increased with the joint military Foal Eagle exercises, which Seoul and Washington began in South Korean territory in late February and which are slated to continue until mid-April.
North Korea, who considers those maneuvers to be a "rehearsal for invasion," in recent weeks has conducted a series of short- and medium-range rocket and ballistic missile launches in what are seen as acts of protest against the military maneuvers.