Saturday, March 24, 2012

Japan to deploy 3 Aegis ships to intercept falling North Korean rocket

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan is set to deploy three Aegis destroyers in the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan to intercept a rocket North Korea plans to launch in mid-April if it falls within Japanese waters, government sources said Friday.

To prevent Pyongyang's rocket or its debris from falling on Japanese territory, the government will also mobilize the Self-Defense Forces' missile shield on Okinawa, Ishigaki and Miyako islands as well as in the Defense Ministry's headquarters and other locations in Tokyo, the sources said.

The Defense Ministry is making final arrangements with local municipalities to issue an order on March 30 to ready the SDF's missile shield against the rocket, they said.

North Korea announced last week it will launch an ''earth observation satellite'' using a rocket to mark the centennial of state founder Kim Il Sung's birthday, which falls on April 15. The move has sparked an international outcry, as the planned launch is widely seen as a disguised long-range ballistic missile test.

Pyongyang has told the International Maritime Organization it will launch the rocket sometime between April 12 and 16 from 7 a.m. to noon Japan time. Read More