Japan 'won't tolerate' N Korean rocket launch

Japan “would not tolerate” a North Korean Act that raises regional tensions, the government said on Thursday after Pyongyang announced it had notified global bodies of its planned satellite launch.

“Japan would not tolerate it if North Korea were to heighten tensions in the region,” said Yasuhisa Kawamura, deputy press secretary of the Foreign Ministry. “The Japanese government urges the North to exercise self-restraint.

“Even if it is a satellite launch, there is an international understanding that it would violate UN Security Council resolutions.”

Pyongyang’s official media said on Thursday that North Korea had contacted the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), International Civil Aviation Organisation and other world bodies as part of its satellite launch preparations.

Kawamura said Tokyo was contacting the IMO to confirm the announcement.

There have been reports for weeks that the North is preparing to launch its longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, from a base at Musudan-ri on its northeast coast. The missile could theoretically reach Alaska.

South Korean and US officials see such a launch as a disguised missile test and have urged the communist state to scrap its plans.

Yonhap, quoting a Seoul intelligence source, said the North had informed the London-based IMO that it plans to fire the rocket between April 4 and 8.

There was no immediate confirmation.

The North has asserted its right to peaceful space research and says any attempt to shoot down its rocket would be seen as an act of war.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone told Parliament on Wednesday that it would be legal under international law for the US military to shoot down a North Korean missile if it were headed for Japanese territory.—AFP

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