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Japan Mobilizes Troops To Intercept N. Korean Rocket

Japan will send 450 Self-Defense Force (SDF) personnel to Ishigaki island in Okinawa prefecture to intercept a North Korean rocket if it poses a danger to Japan, the Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Under the plan, 200 SDF troops will go to Miyako island in connection with the deployment of ground-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors, mainly in Okinawa, the Kyodo news agency reported quoting Ministry officials. Even though possibility of the rocket or its debris falling on Japanese territory is minimal, the government is taking all precautionary measures.

Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka last week ordered the SDF to intercept the rocket should any part of it falls into Japanese territory. He issued the order after North Korea announced last month its plan to launch a satellite, which the United States, South Korea and several other countries believe to be a cover for testing a long-range ballistic missile sometime between April 12 and 16.

On Ishigaki, SDF forces are planning to camp out on reclaimed land near Ishigaki port as the SDF has no facilities there. About 140 vehicles are also to be deployed. The Ministry will also deploy 100 personnel at both the Air Self-Defense Force's Naha base and the Chinen submarine base in Nanjo on Okinawa island, the report said.

South Korea has also mobilized its defense forces to shoot down the Communist neighbor's rocket if it strayed from its trajectory and violated the South's air space.

South Korean media reports say that the North is going ahead with the proposed rocket launch despite international pressure.

by RTT Staff Writer

For comments and feedback: editorial@rttnews.com

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