News

    Japan Prepares to Intercept Possibly Errant N. Korean Missile

    Japanese Defense Minister  Naoki Tanaka
    Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka

    The Japanese parliament has approved a resolution condemning North Korea's planned missile launch, and the country is also preparing contingencies should the missile veer off course and pose a threat to Japan.

    Speaking in Tokyo Friday, Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka said the Japanese military will be prepared for any eventuality.

    Tanaka says he is ordering officials to prepare deployment of PAC-3 surface-to-air missiles and Aegis destroyers carrying a state-of-the-art anti-missile system that could attempt to shoot down the rocket.

    Pyongyang says it will place an earth observation satellite into a polar orbit in mid-April to honor the 100th birth anniversary of its late founder and perennial president, Kim Il Sung.

    Members of the international community say the launch is a pretext for a long-range missile test, which North Korea is forbidden from conducting under U.N. sanctions.

    South Korean and Japanese diplomats met in Seoul to share their responses to the upcoming launch.  Japan's nuclear envoy, Shinsuke Sugiyama, says Tokyo and Seoul are also in contact with other capitals.

    "We agreed we should keep coordinating our positions and comparing notes between ROK [South Korea] and Japan, and also including those in Washington, and of course we should be ready to talk to the Chinese, which I will do, and Russians too as a member of the six-party talks," said Sugiyama.

    The six-party talks were intended to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear programs.  But in 2009 Pyongyang announced it would “never again” participate after the U.N. Security Council moved to condemn North Korea for a failed launch that year.

    North Korea also claimed that was a satellite launch, but observers reported the missile ended up falling into the Pacific Ocean.

    Aerospace industry sources say Japan's response to next month's North Korea launch is a political gesture.  But it would provide a rare opportunity for the Japanese to train its personnel to track a missile from a potentially hostile source.

    Japan is the only country, except for the United States, with the ship-based SM-3 Block 1-a missiles, part of the sophisticated Aegis weapons system.  Those missiles have a range of 500 kilometers and can fly above the atmosphere to destroy ballistic missiles.

    The U.S. Navy has Aegis-equipped ships in Japan, as well.  And the U.S. Army stations Patriot missiles, which can reach an altitude of 24,000 meters, at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

    Japan and the United States had these anti-missile systems ready for action during the 2009 North Korea launch.

    North Korea has told international authorities the first stage of its rocket next month should fall into waters off South Korea's west coast and the second stage is to drop off the east coast of the Philippines.

    The Philippines' defense minister has requested help from the United States to monitor the launch's trajectory.

    Speaking in Singapore, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned a launch by North Korea would discourage international donors, worsening the humanitarian situation in the isolated and impoverished country.

    The United States says if North Korea goes ahead with the launch the deal made last month with Pyongyang can not go through.  The agreement would provide the North with badly-needed food aid in exchange for a partial freeze of its nuclear programs.  


    Steve Herman

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

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.