North Korea has informed Japan of the upcoming launch of a satellite, but the Japanese government believes that announcement hides, in reality, the launch of a ballistic missile.
Pyongyang told the Japanese coast guard that a rocket would be launched between May 31 and June 11 and is expected to land in an area near the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and east of the Philippine island of Luzon. .
North Korea previously tested ballistic missiles in 2012 and again in 2016, calling them satellite launches that flew over the Okinawa island chain in southern Japan.
The development of a reconnaissance satellite was one of the key Pyongyang defense projects unveiled last year by Kim Jong Un, who ordered its launch in mid-April.
But analysts point to the important technological concomitance between space launch capabilities and the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office posted on his Twitter account that he had given instructions on “North Korea’s notification of the launch of a ballistic missile it describes as a satellite.”
“Even if described as a satellite, a launch using ballistic missile technology would be a violation of UN security resolutions and a serious problem threatening people’s safety,” Kishida said.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said it had ordered the Air Self-Defense Force to shoot down any ballistic missiles confirmed to have landed in Japanese waters.adding that it had deployed SM-3 interceptor missiles and PAC-3 Patriot missiles for this purpose.
The South Korean Defense Ministry did not confirm whether it had been informed of an upcoming launch, but the country’s Foreign Ministry later issued a strong statement.
“North Korea’s alleged ‘satellite launch’ is a serious violation of UN Security Council resolutions banning all launches using ballistic missile technologyand it is a clearly illegal act that cannot be justified under any pretext,” he thundered.
Pyongyang’s communication strategy of informing Japan but not South Korea could be linked to major joint exercises between Seoul and Washington that began on Thursday just 25 km south of the inter-Korean border, analyst Cheong Seong-chang believes. , from the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute.
In addition, Seoul “labeled North Korea ‘enemy’ in a defense document in February. North Korea doesn’t like Japan, but it has more reason not to like Seoul at the moment,” according to Cheong.
In recent weeks, Seoul and Tokyo have sought to mend their tense relations, particularly through greater cooperation in the face of North Korean military threats.
But Kishida reiterated Monday that Tokyo was also open to talks with Pyongyang, which, according to official North Korean media outlets, appeared to endorse a conciliatory approach to relations with Japan, an unusual stance in the reclusive country.
If Tokyo avoids being “hampered by the past and seeks a solution to improve relations, there is no reason for the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and Japan not to meet,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Sang Gil said. .
Pak also stated that Japan “requests that the kidnapping issue be resolved, which according to Pyongyang is already resolved.”
Japan suspects dozens of unaccounted-for people were kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s to train their own spies in the Japanese language and culture.
“If we stubbornly cling to the past, we will not be able to move into the future,” Pak said.