(NSI News Source Info) TOKYO - April 4, 2009: The Japanese government has readied itself ahead of Pyongyang's imminent launch of a communications satellite, with the Self-Defense Forces poised to shoot down the launch vehicle if it is seen falling toward Japan's territory. Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) soldiers guard Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles (behind them) at JGSDF Araya base in Akita, northern Japan April 4, 2009. The Japanese government has readied itself ahead of Pyongyang's imminent launch of a communications satellite, with the Self-Defense Forces poised to shoot down the launch vehicle if it is seen falling toward Japan's territory. Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced the launch will be "soon". The projectile is expected to fly over northeastern Japan after the launch. Kyodo News said Prime Minister Taro Aso is expected to stay in his official residence and will immediately move to his office if the launch is confirmed. The office is expected to release information immediately on the launch. Cabinet members belonging to the Security Council of Japan such as Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone are also expected to be on standby in Tokyo. "We still hope the launch will not take place," Nakasone was quoted as saying upon arrival at the Foreign Ministry. "It would be very regrettable if (the DPRK) starts the launch despite the efforts by various countries urging it to refrain from doing so," he said. Meanwhile, the Crisis Management Center at the prime minister's office has also beefed up staff to gather information and has got ready to provide information on the launch to local governments and media organizations, according to Kyodo. The government has relocated Patriot ground-to-air guided missile launch units to Akita and Iwate prefectures in northeastern Japan and sent two destroyers equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptors in the Sea of Japan and another destroyer to the Pacific Ocean to track the projectile. Japan's aviation authority issued a notice Friday to advise airlines to maintain vigilance with regard to possible antiballistic missiles when flying in some areas of Japanese airspace.
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