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Japan: North Korean Launch a Provocative Act

Japan called for an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council after North Korea's rocket launch.  Japan considers the launch, which traveled over its territory, extremely provocative and a violation of U.N. resolutions

North Korea defied demands from Japan, South Korea and the United States not to go ahead with a planned launch of what Pyongyang claimed was an experimental communications satellite.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso says the launch is an extremely provocative act Tokyo cannot ignore.

Mr. Aso says North Korea had been warned by Japan and other nations, especially the United States and South Korea, not to conduct the launch.  Therefore, he says, Japan wants to respond in cooperation with the international community to demonstrate the launch clearly violates U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone says he discussed the implications of the launch in telephone conversations with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, as well as his Chinese and South Korean counterparts.

The foreign minister says Japan's stance is that a new resolution at the U.N. Security Council is needed.

Japan immediately called for an emergency Security Council session. 

It will be held late Sunday in New York (to begin behind closed doors at 1900 UTC).  

North Korea claims the satellite began orbiting the Earth nine minutes after its launch and is transmitting data and melodies praising the nation's late founder Kim Il Sun and his son, current leader Kim Jong Il.

But the U.S. military's North American Aerospace Defense Command says North Korea launched a Taepodong-2 missile that splashed down in the Pacific Ocean and no object entered orbit.

Japan's government says even if North Korea had succeeded in placing a satellite into space, the launch would still have violated U.N. actions forbidding Pyongyang from conducting further ballistic-missile development.

Japan's Transport Minister Kazuyoshi Kaneko says economic sanctions imposed by Tokyo against North Korea will continue as a result of the missile launch.

Kaneko says North Korean vessels will be barred from visiting Japanese ports for another year.

The Japanese sanctions, which are due to expire next week, followed a previous North Korean ballistic missile firing and a nuclear test, both in 2006.

Families of Japanese who have been abducted by North Korean agents over the decades took to the streets of Tokyo to call for even stronger sanctions against Pyongyang.

Sakie Yokota, the mother of one of those kidnapped Megumi Yokota, terms North Korea heartless and says its actions make her sad.

North Korea has admitted carrying out abductions in Japan to train its spies in Japanese language and culture.  Five of those kidnapped were later allowed to return, but North Korea claims the rest are dead, an assertion Japan rejects.  The unresolved issue is one reason diplomats say Tokyo and Pyongyang have not normalized relations. 

Japan's Defense Ministry says specially-deployed interceptors in Akita and Iwate prefectures (states) did not attempt to shoot down the rocket during its seven-minute flight over Japanese territory.

The Japanese government, which had gone on high alert in case debris fell on its territory, says the first rocket booster dropped into the Sea of Japan off Japan's western shore 13 minutes after the launch (at 11:30 a.m. local time). The second stage fell in the Pacific Ocean.

The Japanese Coast Guard dispatched vessels to attempt to locate and retrieve any rocket debris in the water.   

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