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

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs