News

    Japan Heightens Military Alert for North Korean 'Space Launch'

    Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles are deployed at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, April 7, 2012.
    Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles are deployed at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo, April 7, 2012.

    North Korea's plan for a third attempt to propel a satellite into orbit is prompting a military alert in Japan. Authorities there and in other countries say the blast-off, expected by mid-April, would violate U.N. resolutions banning North Korea from utilizing ballistic missile technology.

    It is perhaps the highest state of readiness for Japan's military since World War II. The country has deployed naval ships equipped with interceptor missiles and set up missile defenses on offshore islands and even in central Tokyo.

    U.S. forces in Japan are on a similar state of alert.

    Unnerving situation

    On remote Ishigaki island, some residents say the preparations make them nervous.

    “I can't believe what a big deal is being made about this missile launch,” said one resident.

    It is not an over-reaction, said spokesman Noriyuki Shikata, the deputy cabinet secretary for public relations, at the Japanese prime minister's office.

    “The possibility of the launching of ballistic missiles from North Korea is indeed a direct threat for the security of Japan. And it is natural for us to be prepared in close collaboration, especially, with the U.S. military,” said Shikata.

    "Preparations by Japan and South Korea to try to intercept the missile if it deviates from its course and flies over their territories have prompted a new threat from Pyongyang. It says any such action would mean war and it would immediately retaliate with military strikes."

    “Whoever intercepts our satellite or collects its debris will meet immediate, resolute and merciless punishment,” said a TV announcer for North Korean state TV.

    Graphic of projected trajectory of North Korea missile.
    Graphic of projected trajectory of North Korea missile.

    Attentive monitoring

    If the North Korean missile is spotted on a trajectory for Japan, the country will activate the “J-Alert” emergency message system, to immediately inform the public. Shikata said Japan will be prepared for whatever happens.

    “Our point is we stay calm. But, at the same time, we remain vigilant against different contingencies,” said Shikata.

    Lawmaker Ichiro Aisawa chairs the opposition's foreign affairs committee in parliament.

    “If Japan finds itself targeted by a missile attack, that would be an act of aggression and we would have no other choice but to be drawn into the start of a war. But we need to try to keep a cool head and make the right decisions,” said Aisawa.

    If the launch proceeds, Japanese officials say they will push for additional U.N. sanctions against North Korea and its new, young leader Kim Jong Un.


    Steve Herman

    Steve Herman is VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, based at the State Department.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: moomooslice
    April 10, 2012 8:50 AM
    good target practice ! just declare the projectile violates the air space, country under attack ! shoot the sucker outta sky, declare war and remove the cancerous regime once and for all . end of story !

    by: NVO
    April 09, 2012 3:17 PM
    Will the SUPREME BUFFOON be pushing the button for the rocket launch from Hades, or does he want to wait until he is in Gehenna, which will be after the Millennium and after the Great White Throne Judgement. Where is all the FAKE CRYING for the SUPREME BUFFOON now?????????????????

    by: the WATCHER
    April 09, 2012 1:57 PM
    BLOW NORTH KOREA off the face of the world if it PERSIST with its cave men policies. They either shape up OR GET SHAKE UP! A lousy BUNCH they are the RULERS in North Korea, You cross my AIR SPACE and with out a warning to the north i would instantly RAIN DOWN MISSILES on their asses.I hope AMERICA and JAPAN has that mentality towards the THREAT/.

    by: ..3.3
    April 09, 2012 10:16 AM
    poor thing

    by: michael wind
    April 09, 2012 9:54 AM
    japan remembers what they did to korean people...

    by: tjlucius
    April 09, 2012 9:31 AM
    It would be a great opportunity to try our missile intercept capabilities.

    by: gt
    April 09, 2012 9:15 AM
    if it's non - military than fine - can't trust NK though - if it's loaded and destroys anythink - eliminate them

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora