Japanís armed forces received an order to put on alert its missile interceptors ahead of a planned North Korean satellite launch in April, Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said on Tuesday.
The Defense Ministry has been already taking preparations including deploying its Aegis-equipped destroyers and the land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile systems on the Sakishima islands.
Minister Tanaka earlier warned that he might issue orders to shoot down the rocket if it posed a danger to Japan.
Earlier in the month, North Korea announced plans to launch an earth observation to mark the 100th birthday of its late founding leader Kim Il-sung in April.
The move is seen as a violation of a UN Security Council resolution and has drawn international condemnation. The United States and other countries suspect that the launch is a thinly veiled ballistic missile test.
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