Tokyo says will destroy North Korea missile if it falls on Japanese territory

Japan's Defence Minister Gen Nakatani attends military exercises in Narashino on Jan 10, 2016.
Japan's Defence Minister Gen Nakatani attends military exercises in Narashino on Jan 10, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan said on Wednesday (Feb 3) that it would destroy a North Korean missile if it threatened to fall on its territory, after Pyongyang announced it planned to launch a space rocket this month.

"Today the Defence Minister issued an order" to destroy such a missile if it "is confirmed that it will fall on Japanese territory", the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Defence Minister Gen Nakatani issued the order, citing the "possibility that North Korea will launch a missile it calls a 'satellite' within coming days", the statement said.

The order will be carried out by Japan's ballistic missile defence system, which includes PAC-3 surface-to-air anti-ballistic missiles, and similar SM-3 systems aboard warships, the ministry said.

The order will be effective until Feb 25, it added, the end of the launch window announced by Pyongyang that begins on Feb 8.