TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan on Friday ordered its military to intercept the North Korean missile Pyongyang plans to launch next month if it poses a direct threat to Japan, a scenario the government considers unlikely.
“We don’t expect it to fall onto our territory. We would like the public to carry on with their daily lives and their work normally,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a regular news conference.
“Government offices concerned will take precautionary measures just in case.”
North Korea has said the rocket’s trajectory will be southwards and that will not impact neighboring countries.
Japan plans to deploy Aegis radar-equipped destroyers carrying Standard Missile-3 interceptors in the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea, and Patriot Advanced Capability-3 ground-based interceptors on some of Japan’s southern islands and in the Tokyo metropolitan area, Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said.
Interceptor missiles will be fired only if the North Korean missile or parts of it appear to be falling towards Japanese territory, threatening its people or their property.
In the run-up to North Korea’s launch of a long-range rocket in April 2009, Japan issued a similar order. The rocket flew over Japan and Tokyo did not fire any interceptor missiles.
The impoverished North said this month it would use a rocket to launch a weather satellite to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding ruler and grandfather of the current ruler.
But the United States and other countries, including Japan, say it is much the same as a ballistic missile test and would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The missile launch is due to take place between April 12-16.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Ron Popeski