Japan deploys missile batteries to shoot down North Korean rocket

Featured Japan - December 4th, 2012

Japan will deploy surface-to-air Patriot missiles on three southern islands as it gears up for the potential threat from a North Korean rocket launch.

Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missile batteries will be deployed on Okinawa’s main island and on Miyakojima and Ishigakijima, according to Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto.

The Japanese government is expected to convene its security council to issue an order to shoot down the North Korean missile once it strays off course and threatens Japanese territory, reports the Asahi Shimbun.

Aegis ships carrying SM-3 interceptor missiles will deploy to the East China Sea and to the Sea of Japan while additional Self-Defense Forces on the ground will be sent to Yonagunijima island in case rocket debris fall on land.

North Korea claimed that its rocket launch is a “legitimate attempt” to put a satellite in orbit while the US believes it is only a cover for long-range missile tests that are banned by the United Nations.

The impeding launch has wracked the Korean peninsula, raising concerns that it would affect South Korean elections in December. South Korea also said it will redirect passenger flights to avoid debris.