Japan prepares for N Korean missile launch
Missile-defence system deployed, with orders to shoot down rocket if it looks set to fall on Japanese territory.
Japan has begun deploying a surface-to-air missile defence system and is putting its armed forces on standby in advance of a planned North Korean missile launch this month, reports and officials say.
The Japanese public broadcaster NHK reported that a naval vessel carrying PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) ballistic missiles left a western Japan naval base on Monday, headed for the country’s southern Okinawa island chain.
North Korea announced on Saturday that it would launch a rocket between December 10 and 22 – its second long-range rocket launch this year after a much-hyped but botched attempt in April.
Satoshi Morimoto, Japan’s defence minister, ordered the military on Saturday to prepare for the rocket launch, with a defence ministry spokesman telling AFP news agency that “our ground, marine, and air forces are now preparing to deploy troops in Okinawa”, which the rocket may fly over.
Japan is also planning to deploy Aegis warships in neighbouring waters, the Yomiuri Shimbun and other Japanese media reported on Monday.
Officials are preparing to issue an advance order as soon as Friday to shoot down the rocket if it looks set to fall on Japanese territory, after an emergency meeting chaired by Yoshihiko Noda, prime minister, the Nikkei business daily reported.