Japan prepares defences against North Korean rocket


Japan on Friday readied its missile defence systems to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it threatens the country, as the UN chief warned that next month’s launch could jeopardise food aid.
“I have ordered officials to prepare to deploy the PAC-3 and Aegis warships,” Japan’s Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka told reporters, referring to surface-to-air missiles and destroyers carrying missiles.
The nuclear-armed North has announced it will launch a rocket in mid-April to put a satellite into orbit, a move that the United States, South Korea and other nations see as a pretext for a long-range missile test banned by the UN. The move by North Korea’s new leadership has set off alarm bells across the region.
The Philippines is calling for help from the United States to monitor the rocket, part of which is expected to land off the archipelago.
Amid mounting tensions, North Korea’s main ally China urged that “all parties should keep calm and exercise restraint”, while a special adviser to US President Barack Obama warned any launch will generate a “strong response.”