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Japan sends destroyers ahead of launch

SASEBO, Japan, March 28 (UPI) -- Japan says it dispatched three Aegis destroyers Saturday to intercept and destroy a North Korean rocket if it falls into Japanese territory.

"It's important to deal with and eliminate the North Korean projectile should it threaten the people's security," said Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.

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North Korea has said it will launch a rocket with a satellite payload between April 4 and 8, though Japan and its allies suspect North Korea is planning a ballistic missile test, Kyodo News reported Saturday.

Two of the Aegis destroyers sailing for the Sea of Japan left from their base in Sasebo. The third destroyer left from its base in Yokosuka, reported The Asahi Shimbun.

Meanwhile, on mainland Japan, four Patriot guided-missile units were to be deployed on the ground in the prefectures of Akita and Iwate and in Tokyo near the Defense Ministry and the Imperial Palace.

Russia also put its early warning system on high alert for the proposed launch, reported RIA Novosti.

South Korea and the United States also have taken measures ahead of the impending launch.

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