As asserted by Pyongyang, Japan stated on Wednesday that it was still uncertain if North Korea had been successful in launching a military spy satellite into orbit.
“The (Japanese) government at this point is not confirming whether the satellite had entered into an orbit around the Earth,” chief government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said.
The comment came more than 12 hours after North Korea fired a ballistic missile carrying what it said was the satellite.
So far, only North Korea has said it successfully put the reconnaissance satellite into orbit.
Matsuno added that Japan’s defence ministry was “currently analysing” the launch.
“We think that since last year, North Korea has conducted repeated launches using ballistic missile technology at the highest-ever frequency, and is rapidly improving its missile-related technology and its operational capability,” Matsuno told reporters.
“North Korea’s repeated launches using ballistic missile technology cannot be tolerated, and its rapid improvement of missile technology cannot be overlooked,” he added.
Immediately after the launch late Tuesday, Japan issued an evacuation order to residents in the southern region of Okinawa before rescinding the call after the missile passed over the Pacific Ocean.
“Even if they call it a satellite, the launch of an item that uses ballistic missile technology is clearly a violation of the relevant United Nations resolutions,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Tuesday.
Following Pyongyang’s announcement of its first unsuccessful effort to launch a satellite into space in May, Japan ordered its armed forces to be ready to take down any ballistic missile launched by the North Koreans.
According to Matsuno, the “destroy order” is still in effect, and military troops on Okinawa that are capable of using Patriot PAC-3 missiles as well as vessels outfitted with SM-3 missile interceptors are in place.
“North Korea insists that it will launch several satellites additionally within a short period of time, and it’s possible that it will force through launches of satellites in the future,” Matsuno said.