Japan has successfully tested a U.S.-built system off the coast of Hawaii that is designed to track and destroy missiles.
Japanese and U.S. military officials said late Monday that the navy destroyer Kongo successfully shot down a medium-range missile in space over the Pacific Ocean.
The target missile was fired from a U.S. missile range on the island of Kauai.
Experts said the missile resembled those in the arsenal of North Korea.
Japan - the first U.S. ally to fire an interceptor - paid some $50 million for the test.
The test comes just days after a Japanese navy lieutenant commander was arrested for leaking classified information about the system.
Kongo is the first of four Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces destroyers due to be outfitted with the missile interceptors.
Japan also has a ground-based system using U.S.-made Patriot missiles.
Missile defense cooperation between the United States and Japan expanded after North Korea's 1998 launch of a long-range missile over Japanese territory.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.