Japan says it will shoot down a missile North Korea is preparing to launch next month should it pose a direct threat to Japanese territory.
Pyongyang insists the trajectory will not impact nearby countries. But after a meeting of the Japanese security council, Tokyo said it was readying for all eventualities.
Defence minister Naoki Tanaka explained he was sending Aegis radar-equipped destroyers to the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea and deploying ground-based interceptors in the Tokyo area and on some southern islands.
Pyongyang insists the launch is to send a weather satellite into orbit, to mark the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founding father of the nation and the current leader’s grandfather.
But the project has prompted the US to put food aid plans for North Korea on hold and has even drawn criticism from Pyongyang’s staunchest ally, China.