The Japanese government said Monday that it may have to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it passes over Japan.
Analysts have said there is a possibility that the rocket, which Pyongyang said it will launch between April 12 and 16, may pass over Kyushu or Okinawa. Pyongyang insists the program is part of peaceful space research, while Japan, the U.S. and other nations see it as a disguised missile test.
Speaking in the Diet, Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said that upon receiving the go-ahead from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, he will issue an order to the Self-Defense Forces to activate Japan's missile defense system and shoot down the rocket, Fuji TV reported. The SDF have Aegis-equipped destroyers carrying ballistic missile interceptors and ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors in their arsenal.
North Korea says the rocket will take a "safer” flight path compared to previous launches that strayed into Japanese airspace.
In 2009, Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket over Japan in what it claimed at the time was an attempt to get a satellite into orbit. Tokyo and its allies said it was a ballistic missile test.© Japan Today