North Korea Notifies Japan of ‘Satellite Launch’ by Dec. 1; Japan, U.S., South Korea Pledge to Tackle Situation Together

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North Korean flag

North Korea announced it would launch an “artificial satellite” sometime between Wednesday and Dec. 1, the Japan Coast Guard said early Tuesday.

Since North Korea failed to launch a rocket that it claimed carried a satellite in both May and August, this is believed to be its third launch of a rocket of this kind. The rocket could pass over an area near Okinawa Prefecture, and the three countries of Japan, the United States and South Korea are strongly urging Pyongyang to cancel the launch.

North Korea identified three locations where parts and other materials could fall: two in the Yellow Sea west of the Korean Peninsula and one in the Pacific Ocean east of Luzon Island in the Philippines. All are outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

The Yomiuri Shimbun

The latest notification is the same as that made in August by North Korea. In the August launch, the rocket passed over airspace between Okinawa Island and Miyako Island.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida strongly condemned the upcoming launch, telling reporters at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday morning, “If ballistic missile technology is used, even for the purpose of launching a satellite, it is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

The basic technology used for ballistic missiles and rockets to launch satellites is the same, and North Korea has been improving its missile technology under the guise of satellite launches.

The destructive measures order issued by then Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada to the Self-Defense Forces when North Korea notified Japan of the launch of a “satellite” in May is still in effect.

Kishida said, “In preparation for unforeseen circumstances, the Self-Defense Forces’ Aegis destroyers and the PAC-3 [Patriot Advanced Capability-3 surface-to-air guided missiles] units in Okinawa are in the necessary posture.”

Kishida earlier instructed relevant ministries and agencies to collect and analyze information thoroughly, provide appropriate information to the public, and cooperate with the United States, South Korea and other countries to strongly call for a halt to the launch.

On Tuesday morning, Japan, the United States and South Korea held a telephone meeting among officials at the level of directors general in charge of foreign policy, and confirmed that the three countries would work closely together to deal with the situation.