Japan's military has begun to ready itself for a threatening North Korea missile launch, reports AP. On Friday the government ordered two missile-equipped destroyers to the Sea of Japan and sent batteries of Patriot missile interceptors to protect the northern coastline.
Japan's Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the Self-Defense Force (SDF) to act in case any of North Korea's destructive missiles were disguised as "communication satellites." Asia Times explains the preemptive steps Japan has taken:
Following a National Security Council meeting with Prime Minister Taro Aso and other cabinet members, Hamada ordered the SDF to activate Japan's missile defense system and intercept the missile or any debris from it.
The destruction order is based on paragraph 3 of article 82-2 of the SDF Law, which stipulates that even though the possibility of a missile or rocket falling onto Japan is unclear, the SDF can take preventative action. The order is Japan's first of its kind after it revised its SDF Law in 2005 and legalized the possible shooting down of ballistic missiles and rockets should it become likely that those would hit Japan.
"Whether [it is] a satellite or a missile test, it's very unpleasant that it will fly over Japan and it should never have to be undergone," Hamada told reporters in a televised news conference broadcast nationally after the National Security Council meeting. "Whatever North Korea's intentions are, [I] hope it to stop the launch, and it's natural for the [Japanese] government to destruct it in case" its planned launch fails, Hamada said.
The New York Times describes the tension around the world, not just in Japan, as the UN, US and Russia react to North Korea's threat:
A United Nations Security Council resolution bars North Korea from testing missiles and nuclear devices. Japan, among other nations, imposed tight trade sanctions on North Korea in 2006 after it test-fired a missile and conducted a nuclear test. The United States, Japan and its allies have also demanded the North cancel the launch, and have threatened stricter international sanctions. Even a satellite launch would violate a United Nations Security Council resolution prohibiting ballistic activity, they say.
Also on Friday, Russia joined the chorus of nations condemning the upcoming launch.
"We understand that the current situation in the region of North-East Asia is tense, and this is why it would be better if our partners in North Korea abstained from this, from this launch," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin told journalists, according to Reuters.