Japan readies missile defence over N. Korean rocket, armed forces on standby
TOKYO (AFP) - Tokyo has begun deploying a surface-to-air missile defence system and is putting its armed forces on standby ahead of a planned North Korean missile launch this month, reports and officials said on Monday.
Public broadcaster NHK reported that a naval vessel carrying PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability-3) ballistic missiles left a western Japan naval base on Monday, headed for the country's southern Okinawa island chain.
Defence Minister Satoshi Morimoto on Saturday ordered the military to prepare for the rocket launch, with a defence ministry spokesman telling AFP that "our ground, marine, and air forces are now preparing to deploy troops in Okinawa", which the rocket may fly over.
Tokyo is also planning to deploy Aegis warships in neighbouring waters, the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun and other Japanese media reported on Monday.