Fujimura to North: Don’t launch

Kyodo

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura urged North Korea on Wednesday to refrain from launching a satellite-carrying rocket in mid-April, a plan that has sparked an international outcry because of it is believed Pyongyang only wants to test an ICBM.

“Together with countries concerned, it is important that we urge North Korea to exercise restraint from engaging in an action that will undermine peace and stability,” Fujimura said.

Experts have said the launch could be a disguised test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Fujimura vowed the administration will to take “all possible measures to ensure the people and property (of Japan) are safe.”

North Korea announced Friday that an “application satellite” will be carried into orbit sometime between April 12 and 16 to mark the centennial of the birthday of the country’s founder, the late Kim Il Sung, which falls on April 15. Despite widespread criticism, the North has said it will go ahead with the launch.

Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka told reporters a “decision” will have to be made on ordering the Self-Defense Forces to destroy the rocket.

He told the Diet on Monday that he is considering giving such an order if the rocket poses a danger to Japan.

To prepare for the launch, the Defense Ministry may deploy land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 antimissile systems and Aegis-equipped destroyers carrying the sea-based Standard Missile-3 interceptor, officials said.

Tanaka told a news conference Wednesday the ministry is “naturally studying” the possibility of deploying Patriot batteries on the islands of Okinawa and Ishigaki.