TOKYO, Oct. 28 (Xinhua) -- Japan has successfully test fired a missile interceptor off the coast of Hawaii in a joint exercise with the United States, the Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
The interceptor missile was launched from the Japanese ship Myoko, and was the third such test that Japan has carried out since 1998.
Japan started to develop the weapons after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea sent a long-range missile over the nation in 1998. Since then, the DPRK has developed nuclear weapons, increasing the need for Japan to have interceptors.
The Myoko was not notified before the missile, which was not live, was launched by the U.S. military. The ship is one of four Japanese vessels that is capable of shooting down ballistic missiles.
The missile was shot down while it was in space, and the interceptor is the first part of Japan's missile defense system. If these interceptors miss, the nation also has missiles on the ground that can be used to down targets.
Since World War II, Japan has not been allowed to have an army, it does however, have a large self defense force that is equipped with some of the most advanced military technology in the world.