Tokyo: If the need arises, Japan`s armed forces could shoot down North Korea`s satellite, planned to be launched next month, a minister has said. Japanese Defence Minister Naoki Tanaka said this on Saturday, Sankei newspaper reported.
North Korean state news agency KCNA announced on Friday that it would launch an earth observation satellite next month to mark the 100th birthday of late founding leader Kim Il-sung.
The Unha-3 rocket carrying the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is scheduled to lift off from Cholsan coastal town between April 12 and 16.
The planned launch will be in violation of North Korea`s international obligations and a UN resolution banning Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile launches.
A similar launch in 2009 drew international criticism and led to UN Security Council sanctions.
The Sankei daily said the country`s former defence minister Yasukazu Hamada had then ordered to deploy a missile defence system to protect Japan from North Korean missiles if they fell on to Japanese territory.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Pyongyang`s plans to launch the satellite were highly "provocative".