JAPAN PROMISES TO INTERCEPT NORTH KOREAN MISSILE IF THREATENED

Washington Post on March 30, 2012, published an AP report on a statement by Japan’s defense minister. He ordered missile units to intercept a long-range rocket expected to be launched by North Korea if the rocket or its fragments threaten to hit Japan. Excerpts below:

The Unha-3 rocket is expected to fly past western Japan after its launch from North Korea’s west coast sometime between April 12 and 16. The plan has raised concerns that a failed launch, or a falling stage of the rocket, could endanger Japanese lives or property.

The order from Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka came at a meeting of Japan’s national security council and followed earlier instructions for the military to prepare to intercept the rocket if it enters Japanese territory.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura urged people to stay calm, saying the military is preparing “just in case.

“We don’t believe anything would fall over Japan’s territory. Please carry out your daily lives and business as usual,” he said.

A statement from the Defense Ministry said Japan would send destroyers equipped with Aegis missile defense systems to the Pacific and East China Sea and deploy mobile Patriot missile launchers in Okinawa. An interceptor missile unit is also likely to be deployed in Tokyo, although the capital is far from the expected flight path.

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