Japan prepares to blast North Korean missile out of the sky

The missile launch is believed to be a military test, though Pyongyang insists it is launching a satellite.

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    A truck carrying Patriot missiles arrives at Japan's Asaka Base near Tokyo Friday. Japan moved the missiles to the coast in preparation for intercepting a North Korean missile or its debris.
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Japan has authorized its military to shoot down a North Korean missile that is being prepared for launch in the coming weeks, should it endanger Japanese territory.

The Washington Post reports that the Japanese government has ordered two anti-missile destroyers into the Sea of Japan and is moving Patriot missiles to the coast to intercept the North Korean rocket or its debris.

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Reuters writes that the North Korean missile is a multi-stage long-range rocket, and that while the rocket's boosters are expected to crash in the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, "a failed launch or accident could result in one of the stages of the rocket, or bits of it, falling on Japan and endangering lives and property." Reuters adds that Japan would have only 10 minutes notice if the missile or its debris were to threaten Japanese territory.

However, the Associated Press reported earlier this week that some in the Japanese government are not convinced that its military will be able to successfully intercept the missile or its debris.

The Associated Press adds that Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada disagreed with the foreign minister's assessment.

Japan's order to prepare to intercept the North Korean missile comes a day after Dennis C. Blair, the US National Intelligence Director, issued "the most pointed US challenge so far to Pyongyang's repeated assertions that its upcoming rocket launch is for peaceful purposes," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Gerald Warner, blogging for The Daily Telegraph, adds that the US has dispatched two anti-missile destroyers, the USS McCain and the USS Chafee, to Japanese waters as well.

North Korea earlier this week reiterated its claim that the missile was for a peaceful satellite launch, and warned that any attempt to shoot down would be considered an act of war, reports The Korea Times.

Agence France-Presse reports that Russia, which typically has supported the North Korean government, today recommended that North Korea refrain from the missile test.

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