Japan on alert as window opens for N. Korean rocket

 
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, center, walks by the ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors during his inspection of the Defense Ministry in Tokyo Friday, Dec 7, 2012. Japan deployed the PAC-3 system on the ministry compound in the middle of Tokyo to prepare for North Korea's planned launch of a long-range rocket starting Monday, Dec 10. -- PHOTO : AP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japan said on Monday that it was on full alert over North Korea's planned rocket launch as a 13-day lift-off window opened, despite a suggestion from Pyongyang that it could delay the much-criticised move.

North Korea said on Sunday that the launch, originally scheduled for Dec 10-22, could be changed "for some reasons", giving no further details.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing a government official in Seoul, later said the North had stopped all preparations at the launch site in the country's north-west.

Japan has deployed missile defence systems to intercept and destroy the rocket if it looks set to fall on its territory.

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