The Yomiuri Shimbun

A North Korean notification sent to the International Maritime Organization says an "experimental communications satellite" will be launched sometime from April 4 to 8 and that two bodies of water--in the Sea of Japan off Akita Prefecture, and the Pacific Ocean off Chiba Prefecture--are "danger zones" for rocket debris, the government said Thursday night.

The U.N. maritime agency based in London told the government it received the advance notice from Pyongyang about the launch. Special liaison offices have been set up in the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry as parts of an all-out effort to collect information about North Korea's planned firing of the satellite, nicknamed "Kwangmyongson-2" (brilliant Venus-2).

Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura said in a press conference Thursday night that the planned rocket launch "would harm stability and peace of the [East Asian] region in the midst of efforts to ease tension on the Korean Peninsula."

The chief government spokesman added Tokyo would continue calling for Pyongyang to give up the idea of launching the rocket "even if North Korea claims it is a satellite."

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said to reporters Friday morning, "Whatever it may be, we're determined to cope adequately with any incoming projectile toward this country, as we're prepared to deal with any contingency."

The comment reiterated earlier remarks from Hamada that if a North Korea-launched rocket appeared likely to land in Japanese territory, it would be intercepted by the country's missile defense system.

Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said to reporters the same day, "Even though we're told North Korea plans to launch a satellite [and not a missile], we think the launching would still violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions [that have prohibited Pyongyang from engaging in ballistic missile activities]."

"It's of high significance for our country to have consultations with other countries concerned with U.N. Security Council resolutions in advance" to North Korea's rocket firing, Nakasone added.

These remarks have been interpreted as indicating Japan's policy of having other countries involved in running the Security Council coordinate their views and adopt a new resolution denouncing North Korea over the planned rocket launching.
(Mar. 14, 2009)