Japan readies missiles against North Korean rocket: defense minister

Japan has prepared missile defense systems in response to the planned launch of a North Korean long-range rocket next month, Japanese Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka said, AFP reported.

“I have ordered officials to prepare to deploy the PAC-3 and Aegis warships,” Tanaka said.

Reports said the defense systems would be deployed near the island of Okinawa to shoot down the rocket should it threaten Japanese territory.

North Korea has announced it will launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit to mark the 100th birthday of its late Great Leader Kim Il-sung, a move set off alarm among the United States, South Korea and other nations.

“It would be a grave provocation threatening the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and north-east Asia,” the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement.

North Korea insists it has the right to conduct what it calls a peaceful satellite launch.

Possible steps to take in response to the launch will be raised during nuclear envoys talks in Seoul this weekend, Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean foreign ministry official as saying.