A false alarm was sounded in Japan Saturday when the government
announced North Korea had carried out an expected rocket launch. Japan
quickly rescinded the announcement but not before the report had been
widely disseminated both in the country and internationally.
A jittery Japan went on high alert after Pyongyang announced that an anticipated launch from North Korea was imminent.
the Japanese government's emergency network, headquartered at the Prime
Minister's office, acted prematurely. It announced at 12:16 p.m. local
time Saturday North Korea had fired the rocket. The report was
immediately aired on national broadcast networks and local authorities
activated their emergency responses in areas where it was feared debris
from stages of the missile could fall.
International news agencies also disseminated the announcement.
Five minutes later an embarrassed Japanese government retracted the alert.
At a regional government emergency center in Niigata, officials repeatedly utter "mistake, mistake" to spread the word.
Later in the day, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada apologized.
says he wants to make a heartfelt apology to the people of Japan for
causing tremendous trouble to them. The defense minister says it is the
fault of the Defense Ministry and Self Defense Forces due to a mistake
in the transmission of information.
pinpointed the error as originating at an Air Self-Defense Force radar
station, in Chiba Prefecture, which had detected a "flying object" over
the Sea of Japan.
Japanese media report, however, there was no
indication of a launch from a U.S. early warning satellite system,
which is to be used by Japan to verify such an event.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura, the top government spokesman, also faced reporters to explain what happened.
says he also wants to apologize for the confusion caused by the
government's mistaken announcement of a missile launch. He adds that
all alert systems remain in place for the anticipated launch - now not
expected to occur before Sunday - and the government will strive to be
accurate with further announcements.
North Korea, on Saturday,
through its official media, announced all preparations had been
completed at the launch site in Musudan-ri, in the north-eastern part
of the country.
A television news announcer in Pyongyang says
North Korea's launch of what it terms an experimental communications
satellite would be sent into space "soon."
previously informed international aviation and shipping agencies that
the launch would take place between April 4 and the 8.
impending launch has caused anxiety for Japan, which along with the
United States and South Korea, have called on North Korea not to
proceed. Those governments say such a launch - which they believe will
be a ballistic missile test - would violate a United Nations Security
The 2006 U.N. action demanded Pyongyang drop all development related to ballistic missiles.
an unprecedented defensive posture, Japan has deployed Aegis-class
destroyers to its northern coast and repositioned Patriot missile
batteries in case it needs to shoot down any debris that threatens
Japan. Some of the Patriot PAC-3 land-to-air missile systems have been
placed in and around Tokyo, the capital. Others are in two northern
prefectures expected to be below the flight path of the North
Japan says the launch endangers its security but
has backed away from earlier threats to try to shoot down the missile.
North Korea said any such action by Japan would mean war.