Tokyo, March 30 (IANS) Japanese Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka ordered the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) Friday to intercept a North Korean rocket launch, if necessary.
The minister issued the order after telling SDF Tuesday to take preparatory measures against the North Korean rocket launch which Japan and other countries see as a cover for a long-range ballistic missile test, Xinhua reported.
According to local news reports, the order, which readies the SDF's missile shield against the rocket or its debris, was given after the defence minister and other cabinet members confirmed their policy during a meeting of the country's Security Council presided over by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
Japan's Ground Self-Defense Force will deploy its helicopter rescue personnel, who are trained to handle disasters, to areas where the rocket may veer off course and fly over them, said local media.
North Korea announced earlier it would launch an "earth observation" satellite, or the Kwangmyongsong-3, using a long-range rocket to mark its late leader Kim Il-Sung's 100th birthday.
It is scheduled to be launched from a station in North Phyongan province between April 12 and 16.
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