National

North Korea warns Japan it could see missile overflying country 'in the not distant future'

by Jesse Johnson

Staff Writer

North Korea warned Saturday that Japan could again see missiles overflying the country “in the not distant future” after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Pyongyang’s latest test of a “large multiple-rocket launcher” a “ballistic missile” launch.

North Korea launched two short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast Thursday in the fourth known test of its new weapon, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un voicing “great satisfaction” over the latest test.

After that firing, Abe and other top Japanese officials characterized the weapon a ballistic missile, labeling it a threat to Japan and the international community. Pyongyang is banned from firing ballistic missiles under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

“It can be said that Abe is the only one idiot in the world and the most stupid man ever known in history as he fails to distinguish a missile from multiple launch rocket system while seeing the photo-accompanied report,” an unidentified vice director-general of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s Department of Japanese Affairs said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Ridiculing the Japanese leader as “a perfect imbecile and a political dwarf without parallel in the world,” the North delivered a stark warning.

“Abe may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future and under his nose,” the statement said.

The North has in recent months unleashed a spate of tests-firings of weapons considered by Tokyo to be short-range ballistic missiles. Abe has repeatedly criticized these tests — including one earlier this month — as violations of U.N. resolutions, much to the chagrin of Pyongyang.

With a demonstrated range of 380 km, the weapons, known among analysts as the KN-25, “blurs the distinction between multiple-launch rocket systems (MLRS) and short-range ballistic missiles,” according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Missile Defense Project.

Despite the launches, Abe has voiced an eagerness to meet Kim “without conditions” in a bid to make a breakthrough on the North’s abductions of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s, the government has said.

The North, however, has poured cold water on the idea of an Abe-Kim summit.

“The DPRK considers it best not to deal with Abe as dealing with the most stupid person ever known in history and political dwarf out of favor brings disgrace to it,” Saturday’s statement said. “This thought of ours is hardening day by day.”

DPRK is the acronym for the North’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Earlier this month, Song Il Ho, the North Korean ambassador for normalization talks with Japan, blasted Abe for reacting “as if a nuclear bomb was dropped on the land of Japan” to what the North described as a test-firing of rocket artillery.

In that insult-laden diatribe, Song called Abe an “idiot and villain” who should not even dream of setting foot in Pyongyang, while also hinting at the possibility of missiles again flying over Japan.

“Not many years have elapsed since peace settled in the sky above Japan,” he said.

“If the dwarfs persist in provoking the DPRK, seemingly to get the uneasiness and horror with which they trembled when a projectile flew over Japan, the DPRK will do what it wishes to do, indifferent to the island nation.”

In 2017, the North lobbed two intermediate-range missiles over Japan as it underwent a massive expansion in its capabilities, prompting Abe to call the new threat “unprecedented, serious and important.”

Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945, has long been a favorite boogeyman of the North, and is often the subject of its attacks in state-run propaganda. Tokyo’s rule during this period, coupled with North Korean founder Kim Il Sung’s purported heroic struggles against Imperial Japan, form the ideological foundation of the country and the political legitimacy of the Kim dynasty, experts say.