Report: Japan bungled response to N. Korean missile launch

April 27, 2012


A team from the prime minister's official residence has concluded that the government mishandled the flow of information regarding the North Korean missile launch of April 13.

Led by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tsuyoshi Saito and Akihisa Nagashima, adviser to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the team in its report concluded that the inaction and slow response taken by the government was inappropriate.

According to the report, the government was informed by the United States' Satellite Early Warning (SEW) system of the missile launch immediately after it took place at 7:38 a.m.

But 25 minutes later, at 8:03 a.m., the government issued a statement that said, "The government has yet to confirm the launch.”

The report said the government should have announced the SEW information while saying at the same time that it had yet to officially confirm the launch.

The report also said the government failed to use the J-Alert system, which immediately connects to local governments’ wireless warning systems to their residents. Because of the government's failure to use the J-Alert system, confusion occurred among many local government officials after the missile launch.

The team also concluded that the turmoil could have been avoided if the government had thoroughly informed local governments beforehand that the J-Alert system would have only been used had the missile been likely to enter Japanese airspace. It failed to do so.

Despite a less-than-glowing report, some government officials had no problem with how the situation was handled.

"Although there were some problems in the Noda administration’s publicity activities to the people about the missile launch, the government’s crisis management was perfect,” one central government official said.

Because of that, the government will not question the responsibility of Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura or Toshiro Yonemura, deputy chief Cabinet secretary for Crisis Management.

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Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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