The government has withdrawn authorization for chartered cargo flights between North Korea and Japan to protest the communist nation’s missile launch Monday over Japanese sovereign territory, Transport Minister Jiro Kawasaki said Wednesday.
After consulting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka, the minister canceled approval for nine chartered cargo flights by Air Koryo, the North Korean carrier, that were scheduled to run between today and Sept. 15, ministry officials said.
Applications for several of the carrier’s other flights to Japan for September were also turned down, he said. “North Korea’s missile launch was conducted in violation of the Chicago Convention,” Kawasaki said, noting that the area where the missile landed showed there was “a serious threat to aircraft safety” over the Pacific Ocean.
The second stage of the North Korean ballistic missile, believed to be a Taepodong 1, flew over the mainland of Honshu and is thought to have fallen into the Pacific off the east coast of Japan.
The Chicago Convention is an international aviation treaty regarding the safety and operation of civilian aircraft. Although Japan has not made any flights to the famine-stricken nation, North Korea has run 13 passenger flights and one cargo flight per a 1992 bilateral aviation pact allowing each side to make 40 chartered flights a year. Tokyo’s decision applies only to aviation traffic. Other modes of transportation do not require government approval, the ministry said.
In the meantime, a top Foreign Ministry official said that Japan’s decision to halt, for the time being, the promotion of a project to construct a light-water nuclear reactor in North Korea does not mean Japan is withdrawing from the framework.
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