Japan deploys Aegis destroyers to take down North Korean test missiles

The US and South Korean military are also bracing for the missile launch.

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north korea missile launch
A rocket is fired during a drill by anti-aircraft units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 3, 2015 Reuters

Japan has put the military on alert for a potential ballistic missile launch by North Korea from its Dongchang-ri launc site.

The US forces based in Japan as well as the South Korean military are also bracing for the missile launch after an analysis of satellite images showed there was brisk activity at North Korea's missile launch site.

Japanese Defence Minister Gen Nakatani has ordered the military to destroy any missile fired by North Korea that threatens the country, the Nikkei daily reported on Friday.

"We are taking all possible measures to respond (to a missile launch) by collecting information and coordinating with countries concerned," a Japanese defence ministry spokesperson told AFP.

Reuters reported Nakatani has ordered Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan to take down any missile heading the Japan's direction.

Reports about North Korea's missile test plans worsened the security scenario in the region following Pyongyang's 'successful' testing of its first hydrogen bomb earlier this month.

The missile launch, if it happens, will be a direct violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea has been attempting to build an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and its last rocket launch was in 2012, when it said it put into orbit a communications satellite.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he talked to US Secretary of State John Kerry. "We can't deny the possibility that North Korea will take further provocative action," Kishida said.

Kerry, who was in China for two-day talks, had asked Beijing to do more to rein in the Pyongyang regime and ensure regional security.

This article was first published on January 29, 2016