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JSDF ready for NK rocket launch

Date Posted: 2012-04-13

The Aegis combat systems equipped Japan Maritime Self Defense Force destroyers are in position, as are the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptor missiles, all awaiting whatever happens in coming days as North Korea launches its rocket on a trajectory that could have booster stages, debris, or the missile itself falling onto Japanese territory.]

Three MSDF destroyers are now in the East China Sea awaiting North Korea’s launch of a rocket it says is intended to study farming patterns and other research. The U.S. Navy has dispatched an Aegis-equipped destroyer from its base at Sasebo, on Japan’s southwest coast, but no announcement has been made where it was headed.

Patriot Advanced Capability-3 ground missile interceptors are at four locations within Okinawa Prefecture, including units at both Ishigaki Island and Miyako Island in the East China Sea. Other units are now in position on Okinawa’s main island. In mainland Japan, the JSDF has deployed PAC-3 units in Tokyo’s Ichigaya district within the metropolitan area, a second at Narashino in Chiba Prefecture and at Asaka in Saitama Prefecture.
Pyongyang says the launch is strictly peaceful, but western analysts believe the launch is a cover for a ballistic missile test. The launch is expected sometime between today and next Monday.

Japan, China and South Korea have all had foreign ministers putting their heads together and making “maximum efforts” to persuade North Korea to cancel the launch. The three haven’t reached a common plan how to respond if North Korea does launch the rocket. Japan’s Foreign Minister, Koichiro Gemba, and South Korea’s Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Kim Sung Hwan, have asked for Beijing’s assistance with the United Nations Security Council. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has reportedly stalled on offering a constructive response that would include further demands to North Korea it halt the launch.

"We were able to increase our common views" on the issue, Gemba told journalists after his trilateral meeting with Kim and Yang in Ningbo, eastern China. "But frankly speaking, I would not say the three countries completely shared the same view."

Quoting a press release issued by China's Foreign Ministry, the country's official Xinhua News Agency reported over the weekend that Yang said in separate talks with Gemba and Kim that Beijing is "concerned and worried" about the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula.

"China hoped all parties involved would keep calm and exert restraint in light of the overall situation and long-term benefits, continue dialogues, and properly resolve relevant issues through peaceful ways," Yang was quoted as saying.

Yang reportedly has assured South Korea and Japan that China "will keep communication and coordination with all sides to promote the six-party talks and the denuclearization process of the peninsula, and to play a constructive role to the region's peace and stability."

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