Japan watching North Korea over missiles



Tokyo: The Japanese government will continue gathering information about a possible missile launch by North Korea and is ready to defend itself, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Monday.

Last week, Japanese media reports said US satellite images showed North Korea had delivered what are believed to be long-range ballistic missile parts to a launch site.

The movement involves equipment similar to that used in April when North Korea tested a long-range ballistic missile that exploded shortly after lift-off. Prior to that test, Pyongyang said that the missile was putting a satellite in orbit. No such announcement has been made regarding the current activity.

"The government will work harder to gather and analyze information, and will continue to take thorough measures to protect the country," NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation quoted Fujimura as saying.

Fujimura said the North Korean move will not have an impact on talks between the two countries. He said they will hold the next round of talks after making preparations through diplomatic channels.

The Yomiuri Shimbun daily said Sunday that testing an offensive missile would jeopardize bilateral talks between Japan and North Korea that began Nov 15.

It quoted some observers as saying that North Korea's latest move is meant to intimidate Japan, South Korea and the US, ahead of a House of Representatives election in Japan in December, a South Korean presidential election in the same month and the start of newly re-elected US President Barack Obama's new administration in January.

IANS