Hours after North Korea's flop at putting a satellite into orbit, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda signaled April 13 his government will consult allies on a new U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Pyongyang's conduct.
Noda, addressing a meeting of the Security Council of Japan, said the missile launch was a blatant violation of existing UNSC resolutions forbidding any launch using ballistic missile technology.
He instructed the ministers concerned to work closely with their foreign counterparts via the UNSC to punish North Korea for its latest provocation.
Meantime, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura echoed North Korea's acknowledgment that the missile launch ended in failure. He said the government was weighing additional sanctions against Pyongyang.
Over the course of two Security Council of Japan meetings, Noda gave instructions to disseminate all available information on the matter to the public and make sure that Japan's allies were all united on protesting North Korea's latest act of brinkmanship.
At a morning news conference, Fujimura said, "At around 7:40 a.m., some sort of flying object was launched by North Korea. It fell to the ocean after flying for more than a minute. We have confirmed that the flying object which North Korea referred to as a satellite was a missile."
He added, "We have no information that it fell anywhere within Japanese territory and there have been no reports about any damage to the public."
Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka told reporters it was Japan's understanding that the missile launch was "a failure."
That aside, the government had problems transmitting reliable information on the event to local governments that possibly could have been affected by the missile's southern trajectory.
The central command at the Defense Ministry was alerted by the U.S. Satellite Early Warning (SEW) System at 7:40 a.m. that the missile had been launched.
However, the prime minister's office only issued a statement that said, "While there are some media reports of a North Korean launch, we have not yet confirmed such a launch."
About a half-hour later, the statement was revised to say confirmation had been received from SEW. However, no effort was made to activate an alert system to caution local governments to be on guard.
In explaining why the national alert system was not activated, Fujimura said at a news conference, "It is possible for SEW to issue wrong information. There was a need for Japan to confirm the information through a double check."
Japanese radar tracked the missile immediately after blastoff, but the projectile quickly vanished from screens.
Fujimura was clearly miffed at the glitch in relaying timely information. He indicated that an internal investigation would be held to assess what went wrong and how to ensure that the public is kept informed of such developments on a real-time basis.
Even so, Fujimura said the actions taken pretty much mirrored guidelines established beforehand.
"There was a mix-up of different pieces of information," he acknowledged. "There will be a need to examine the response guidelines themselves."
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