TOKYO -- Japan's move Friday to deploy missile interceptors is the boldest challenge North Korea faces so far to its plan to launch a rocket in the next few days.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said he ordered the deployment of missile interceptors to Japan's northern coast to prepare to shoot down the rocket and any debris that could fall on Japanese territory. It was the first such order Japan had issued, a ministry spokesman said.
North Korea said it will launch a rocket carrying a satellite between April 4 and April 8, and warned that fragments could fall into the Sea of Japan between the two countries as well as southeast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean.
Japan and its allies suspect the rocket is a new long-range missile, and have demanded that Pyongyang cancel the plan. A launch would violate United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed in 2006 after North Korea tested a long-range missile.
Any action Japan takes would be restricted to shooting at material that threatens to fall on Japanese land or sea. Nevertheless, the move is a bold one for Japan, which has a pacifist constitution that strictly restricts its military to measures of national defense.
Japan is particularly worried about North Korea because of its proximity to the rogue nation. After Pyongyang's launches in recent years, Tokyo imposed sanctions on North Korea and pushed the U.N. Security Council to enact further sanctions. At the time, Japan didn't have the missile-defense capabilities it has today.
If it's a danger, just have an Aegis cruiser take it out.
Otherwise it's all just BREAD AND CIRCUS, violence and wonder for the plebs, eh?