• Kyodo News


Japan will condemn North Korea for an “act of provocation” if it launches a long-range ballistic missile and Prime Minister Taro Aso will instruct the government to increase its surveillance, official sources said Wednesday.

Cabinet members would be expected to gather at the prime minister’s office to discuss ways to deal with the launch, should it occur, with the goal of having the U.N. Security Council adopt a new sanctions resolution against Pyongyang, the sources said.

North Korea has said it will launch a rocket sometime between April 4 and 8 to put a satellite into orbit. Japan, South Korea and the United States suspect Pyongyang actually plans to test a long-range ballistic missile.

The three countries have declared they will consider proposing a new U.N. Security Council resolution in response to any launch, regardless of whether it is a missile or for a satellite, as such action would violate a 2006 UNSC resolution banning Pyongyang from all activities related to its ballistic missile program.

But China and Russia, both permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, are believed reluctant to agree to new sanctions if the launch turns out to be for placing a satellite into orbit.

According to the sources, Japan has compiled a plan to condemn North Korea during a press conference by Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura that would be held up to 90 minutes after the launch.

Kawamura is likely to emphasize Japan’s close coordination with the United States and South Korea in dealing with the situation to show North Korea its stern opposition to such action.

As it would be hard based on initial data to determine whether a satellite was loaded on the rocket, Kawamura is expected to describe what has been launched merely as a “flying object,” the sources said.

Prior to Kawamura’s news conference, Aso will meet with Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada and Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone.

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