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Thursday, July 6, 2006

MEDIA, PUBLIC URGED TO BE CALM

Korean residents ponder fallout of missile launch


Staff writer

OSAKA -- Korean residents in Japan expressed anger, sorrow and disappointment at Pyongyang's launch of six missiles Wednesday morning.

Many said they weren't surprised, but urged Tokyo and the media to react calmly.

"The launch of the missiles is an international issue. We hope the Japanese government will remember that. Likewise, we hope the Japanese media will not stir up anti-Korean hatred over the issue," said Kim Jong Ui, a spokesman for the Osaka chapter of the pro-Pyongang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryun).

The pro-Seoul Korean Residents Union in Japan (Mindan) denounced the missile tests and called on Chongryun to pressure North Korea to refrain from further tests.

"Even though South Korea, Japan and the United States called on North Korea not to launch any missiles, the pleas were ignored, creating great anger and disappointment among the peoples of all three nations," Kim Han Ik, head of Osaka Mindan, said in a statement shortly after the tests.

"On June 24th, Mindan called upon Chongryun to persuade North Korea to cancel its missile tests. Chongryun should work to assist North Korea in resolving this problem."

Korean residents said they were concerned about the tests and the affect they will have on the public here.

The launches call for a coordinated international response, preferably through the six-nation talks, not unilateral action on the part of Japan, said Kim Hye Ok, a South Korean postdoctoral fellow in peace studies at Kyoto's Ritsumeikan University. He was concerned the public might not agree to a calm approach.

"But a calm political response is difficult because the Japanese public has been fed a diet of anti-North Korea propaganda over the past few years by the Japanese media, which often just repeats what rightwing South Korean or American media say about North Korea. Today's heavy coverage of the missile launches just convinces Japanese that previous reports about North Korea being 'evil' are correct," Kim figured.

Lee Bong Seok, a South Korean researcher at the Land Institute Research Center in Tokyo, said he was not surprised by Pyongyang's action and said the weapons demonstration was not really aimed at Tokyo.

"I think North Korea wanted to send America, particularly President George W. Bush, a message that it's angry with remarks made at the recent summit between Bush and Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi regarding North Korea's nuclear ambitions," Lee said.

Fishermen spooked

SAPPORO (Kyodo) Japanese who live and work near the Sea of Japan expressed shock and fear upon hearing that North Korea had launched missiles Wednesday that are believed to have fallen in the sea.

"There could have been terrible consequences if the missiles had come down in Rebun. It is a life-threatening incident. It really is a threat," said Hiroaki Takahashi, 53, a resident of Rebun, Hokkaido, who was fishing at sea when the missiles came down.

Noriki Sato, 48, said after returning from squid fishing: "I will continue to fish because I have to make a living. My family would probably get worried, but we can only hope (the missiles) won't fly over here again."



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