Japan has threatened to intercept a North Korean long-range rocket, scheduled to be launched next month, as South Korean newspapers reported that the north has test-fired two short-range missiles.
Japan's defense minister on Friday ordered missile units to intercept a long-range rocket due to be launched by North Korea next month, should it pass over Japan. The move was ordered as a precautionary measure, as the government considers it unlikely that the rocket will pass over the country.
"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 said at a press conference. "Government offices concerned will take precautionary measures just in case."
Interceptor missiles, which will be placed in the Sea of Japan, the East China Sea, some of the country's southern islands, and in Tokyo, would only be fired if it seemed the missiles or parts of it were falling toward Japanese territory.
Japan enacted similar measures for a North Korean rocket launch in 2009, but did not actually fire upon the rocket as it passed over the country.
South Korea has also said it might shoot down the North's rocket should it pass over their territory.
While North Korea claims the rocket launch, which is scheduled for sometime in mid-April, is for the purposes of putting a scientific satellite into space, Japan and other countries such as the United States believe Pyongyang is testing the capabilities of its long-range rockets to be used on ballistic missiles.
mz/dfm (Reuters, AP)