Japan says it is prepared to shoot down a North Korean spy satellite rocket if it needs to.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told the Japanese military on Saturday to make the “necessary preparations,” as he could potentially “order the destruction of ballistic missiles.”
The news follows an announcement by North Korea on Wednesday that Pyongyang is making its final preparations to launch its first military reconnaissance satellite.
In a statement released by the Ministry of Defense, Hamada did not rule out shooting down the rocket used to launch the satellite.
The Japanese Self Defense Forces have been put on alert for any debris from the rocket falling into Japanese territory.
The Japanese military will deploy ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles and Aegis-equipped destroyer warships carrying sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptor projectiles, the statement added.
North Korean state media KCNA reported on Wednesday that its leader Kim Jong Un had ordered officials to prepare to launch the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite.
Kim made the remarks alongside his daughter, believed to be called Ju Ae, who has increasingly accompanied her father on public outings, during a visit to the National Aerospace Development Administration earlier this week.
North Korea claimed as early as last December that it had conducted an “important final stage test” for the development of a spy satellite.
It has previously said the satellite could be ready by as soon as April this year.