TOKYO — Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s cabinet Friday gave the green light to shoot down a North Korean rocket if it threatens Japan’s territory, as the planned launch raises global alarm bells.
Pyongyang has said it will fire a rocket to put a satellite into orbit between April 12 and 16 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding president Kim Il-sung, saying the launch was for peaceful purposes.
But the United States and its allies suspect it is a disguised missile test, and say the launch would contravene UN sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea’s missile programme.
“(The cabinet) at a security meeting this morning confirmed the policy to issue a destroy order,” an official in the prime minister’s office told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The order gave defense Minister Naoki Tanaka the power to have the projectile shot down, as Japan grows increasingly worried that the rocket may pass over – or fall into – its territory. — AFP