Friday, Japan ordered its Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to destroy debris from Pyongyang's rocket in the event that its launch fails and fragments fall into Japanese territory, media reports say.
The announcement came as South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator traveled to Washington Friday to discuss strategies aimed at countering the North's planned rocket launch.
I issued a necessary order to SDF units to prepare for an event in which a North Korea's projectile falls onto our country in an accident, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso. We will do everything to deal with any flying object to assure the Japanese people's safety and security, he added.
The unprecedented decision was made at a meeting of the Security Council of Japan, the nation's top security panel.
Japanese local media have reported Tokyo is to deploy two Aegis-equipped destroyers in the Sea of Japan and Patriot interceptors in northern prefectures of Akita and Iwate.
Officials in Pyongyang have warned the rocket's first booster would land in the Sea of Japan, while the second stage would drop into the Pacific Ocean between Japan and Hawaii.
Japan is concerned that if the launch fails, rocket debris, such as boosters, may fall somewhere in northeastern Japan, over which the rocket is expected to fly.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as North Korea is better know, has said it will launch a communications satellite in April, though Japan, the United States and South Korea suspect Pyongyang's planned launch may be a test-firing of Stalinist nation's Taepodong-2 long-range ballistic missile.
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