Japan Puts Military On Alert–Japan condemns Pyongyang’s plan to launch a space rocket, calling it a thinly disguised test of a long-range ballistic missile.–47GH.
The government ordered Aegis ballistic missile defense warships of the Maritime Self-Defense Force and land-based Patriot PAC-3 rocket units to respond should projections show components falling in Japanese territory. “This will effectively mean the firing of a ballistic missile. It would be a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and a grave, provocative act against the security of our country,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a Lower House session Wednesday.
“Japan, in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, will strongly urge North Korea to refrain from (conducting) the launch,”
On Tuesday night, North Korea notified the International Maritime Organization that it plans to send a “satellite” into orbit between Feb. 8 and 25. It said the launch will take place on one of those days between 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Japan time. Pyongyang conducted a fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6. The planned launch is widely seen as both a test and a demonstration of its advances in rocketry.
If North Korea develops long-range ballistic missiles using the technologies tested in the launches, “the missiles could have ranges that potentially reach the central, western, and other areas of the U.S. mainland,” the Defense Ministry concluded in its 2015 white paper.
Meanwhile, Washington and Seoul have both condemned Pyongyang’s plan.
“The international community would regard a step like that by the North Koreans as just another irresponsible provocation and a clear violation of their international obligations,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday in Washington.
“The U.S. has worked closely not just with our allies in South Korea and Japan but also with our partners in China and Russia, to convey to the North Koreans the need to end their provocative actions,” he said.
Earnest also maintained that China has “unique influence over the North Korean regime,” urging Beijing to join the U.S. and its allies to “counter this threat.”
Urging Pyongyang to drop its plan, the government in Seoul said the move would be a serious breach of U.N. resolutions and a “direct challenge” to the international community.
China on Wednesday expressed serious concern over North Korea’s plan, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang calling on Pyongyang to “exercise restraint” and not escalate tensions in the region.
source–allen west, reiji yoshida, ayako mie, shinzo abe, yoshihide suga, lu kang, tomohiro osaki