Japan’s missile defense on alert as a response to North Korea satellite launch warning


TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) Japan warned of its missile defenses and territorial control after North Korea announced it planned to launch a satellite between May 31 and June 11. 

Nuclear-armed North Korea has announced that it has completed its first military spy satellite, and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has approved final preparations for the launch.

It is the latest North Korean move in a series of missile launches and weapons tests in recent months, including a new solid-fuel ICBM.

A defense ministry spokesman said the Japanese government expects North Korea to launch missiles carrying satellites over Japan’s Nansei Islands, similar to 2016.

Analysts say the new satellite is part of a surveillance technology program that includes drones and is intended to improve the ability to strike targets in wartime. Japan’s defense ministry said in a statement, “We will take destructive measures against ballistic missiles and other missiles confirmed to have landed on our territory.”

It added that Japan would use Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) or Patriot Missile PAC-3 to destroy North Korean missiles.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that any North Korean missile launch would be a serious violation of a UN Security Council resolution condemning North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities.

“We urge North Korea to refrain from launching,” his office wrote on Twitter, adding that it would work with the United States, South Korea and other countries to do its utmost to collect and analyze information after each launch.

South Korea joins Japan in urging a reclusive North Korea to abandon what it calls “illegal” plans. The Japanese soldiers are passengers of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Force.
Japanese soldiers in the Self-Defense Forces were stationed in Tokyo, Japan by the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile force. /Photo Archive/Reuters/Kim Kyung-hoon
A spokesman for South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that “North Korea will pay the price and suffer if it pushes forward.”

But Chad O’Carroll, chief executive of the Korea Risk Group, which monitors North Korea, said there were no serious consequences left for North Korea, and calls by Tokyo and South Korea to halt the launch would have little effect. said he would.

“Given the massive military exercises between the US and South Korea and the launch of South Korea’s own satellites, North Korea is likely to view South Korea’s criticism as highly hypocritical.”

South Korea’s homegrown space rocket launched its first commercial satellite into orbit on Thursday.

North Korea has made multiple attempts to launch “earth observation satellites,” most recently two of which are believed to have been successful in 2016. In May, leader Kim toured a military satellite facility, according to state news agency KCNA.

In April, Japan sent destroyers armed with SM-3 interceptor missiles capable of hitting space targets to the East China Sea, and land-launched PAC-3 missiles to the Okinawa islands to strike near the warheads.

“The government is aware that satellites may pass through our territory,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a regular press conference after North Korea notified the Japan Coast Guard of the plan.

North Korean state media has criticized plans by Japan, South Korea and the United States to share real-time data on missile launches, labeling the three as discussing “evil steps” to boost military cooperation.