Japan to Shoot Down Foreign Balloons If Necessary


Tokyo, Feb. 16 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese government Thursday adopted the policy of shooting down balloons and other unmanned flying objects violating the country's airspace if necessary.

To make the shoot-down possible, the government eased conditions for the Self-Defense Forces' use of weapons against flying objects. Previously, SDF fighter jets were able to use weapons only against manned aircraft and only for the purpose of self-defense or emergency escape.

After obtaining approval by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its ruling coalition partner Komeito the same day, the Defense Ministry immediately stated operations under the new policy, which stipulates that the SDF can shoot down unmanned objects flying in the territorial airspace if necessary to protect the lives and property of citizens and to ensure the safety of air traffic.

It cannot be ruled out that those objects are carrying something harmful and that they will keep staying in the airspace even after receiving warnings, the ministry noted, adding that concrete guidelines for the use of weapons will be drawn up later.

Air SDF Chief of Staff Shunji Izutsu told a press conference that it would be possible for SDF fighters to destroy balloons with air-to-air missiles.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press