TOKYO, March 31 (UPI) -- Japan announced its military was standing by to shoot down a North Korean missile if necessary later this month.
Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said the Self-Defense Forces would intercept the rocket to prevent it, or pieces of it, from falling to earth in Japan.
North Korea has announced plans to launch a satellite into orbit sometime in mid-April aboard a military missile. The government in nearby Japan is concerned the vehicle could crash into its territory.
"We want to be fully prepared for the possibility (the missile or its fragments) may fall into our territory," Tanaka told reporters Friday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun said Japan has land-based Patriot missiles and the SM-3 naval interceptor at its disposal.