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Japan warns it will destroy any North Korean missile that enters its territory after Pyongyang signals satellite launch imminent

<i>KCNA</i><br/>North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects preparations for North Korea's first military spy satellite on Tuesday
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects preparations for North Korea's first military spy satellite on Tuesday

By Emiko Jozuka

Tokyo (CNN) — Japan’s Defense Ministry warned on Monday it would destroy any North Korean missile that enters its territory after Pyongyang notified the country of plans to launch a “satellite” between May 31 and June 11.

“We will take destructive measures against ballistic and other missiles that are confirmed to land in our territory,” Japan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.

North Korea’s space development agency had said last year it would finish preparations for the reconnaissance satellite by April 2023.

A Japanese Coast Guard spokesman said the notification of the launch by Pyongyang came via email. It said North Korea plans to launch its satellite toward the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and east of Luzon, Philippines, in an area outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the spokesman said.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno also said Monday that any North Korean missile launch disguised as a “satellite” is a “threat” to the nation’s security.

If North Korea follows through on its plan to launch a missile, it would violate United Nations’ Security Council resolutions and be a “serious provocation”, Matsuno told reporters.

Matsuno said Japan’s Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces have issued an order regarding the preparation of destructive measures against ballistic missiles.

In addition, the Defense Ministry is also taking other precautions, such as deploying Patriot missile defense batteries and Aegis destroyers with ballistic missile defense capabilities to waters around Japan’s Nansei Islands, an archipelago that stretches from the southern tip of the main island of Japanese Kyushu south to near Taiwan.

Okinawa, where the United States maintains key military bases, is the largest island in the chain.

Matsuno added that Japan would work closely with the US and South Korea and urged Pyongyang to exercise self-restraint.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters Monday that any missile launch by North Korea, even if called a satellite, is a “significant issue that affects the safety of Japanese citizens,” and reiterated his willingness to hold talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Last month, Kim ordered officials to prepare to launch the country’s first military reconnaissance satellite, North Korean state media reported at the time.

South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting Monday following North Korea’s notification of its plans to launch a satellite, South Korea’s presidential office said in a statement.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry also urged North Korea on Monday to withdraw its plan to launch a “satellite” which it said would be a “serious violation” of UN Security Council resolutions and an “obvious illegal act that cannot be justified under any pretext.”

In mid-April, a North Korean missile test raised fears on the Japanese northern main island of Hokkaido after the government’s emergency alert system warned residents to take cover.

But soon after, fear turned into anger and confusion as the evacuation order was lifted amid reports that it had been sent in error, with local officials saying there was no possibility of the missile hitting the island and Tokyo later confirming it had fallen outside Japanese territory, in waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea later said that missiles was a new, solid-fueled ICBM, a development that analysts say could allow it to launch long-range nuclear strikes more quickly and easily as it ramps up its missile program.

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CNN’s Brad Lendon and Eru Ishikawa contributed to this report.

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