North Korea is poised to take another attempt at placing a claimed spy satellite into orbit as soon as Thursday, a second try this year that comes some three months after its acknowledged "gravest failure."
Pyongyang notified Japan its launch window for a satellite launch is Aug. 24 to 31, Tokyo said Tuesday, without specifying the satellite's type.
In reaction, the Japan Coast Guard posted coordinates that include waters west of the Korean peninsula, the East China Sea and waters east of the Philippines' Luzon island as potential danger zones and called on vessels traveling through them to exercise caution.
The prime minister's office in Japan said it strongly urged North Korea to refrain from firing what it refers to as a "satellite," adding it was collecting information and working with the U.S., South Korea and other concerned parties.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters it would be "extremely regrettable" if North Korea went ahead with its launch.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, in charge of inter-Korean affairs, echoed the view and called on Pyongyang to immediately halt its plan. North Korea's claimed satellite test utilizes ballistic missile technology that is banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions, which cannot be justified under any circumstance, it said.
Many observers view North Korea's claimed rocket launches as a way to forward its ballistic weapons program under the guise of a civilian program.
North Korea was widely expected to return to the launch pad after its May 31 attempt to place a reconnaissance satellite into orbit prematurely failed when the rocket lost its thrust soon after taking off.
Pyongyang in June publicly attributed this to "the abnormal starting of the second-stage engine" and pledged to try again after making needed fixes.
After weeks of underwater salvage efforts, South Korea's military retrieved parts of the North Korean rocket, reportedly including its payload, earning a rare first-hand look inside. It concluded that the claimed reconnaissance satellite had no such utility, without providing details of what was recovered or analyzed.
North Korea's rocket launch notification comes as South Korea is engaged in a massive series of exercises at the government and U.S.-South Korea military levels to boost readiness for a potential incursion by North Korea.
Pyongyang issued a scathing commentary on Tuesday of the Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises, saying that it – together with agreements inked at last week's trilateral summit among leaders of the U.S., South Korea and Japan in Camp David – was pushing the region into "an unprecedented large-scale thermonuclear war."
North Korea views the annual summertime war games between the allies, currently known as the Ulchi Freedom Shield, as a practice for invasion.
The drills were revived to full scale under the Yoon Suk Yeol administration after they were unilaterally canceled in 2018 by then-U.S. President Donald Trump in a surprise concession to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during their Singapore Summit.
This year's Ulchi Freedom Shield will feature some 30 field exercises to complement command post exercises, the most in recent years.
A nationwide emergency drill on Wednesday will also require vehicle traffic to stop and people to take shelter for a 20-minute civilian drill.