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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

North's launch spurs Lower House censure

Resolution cites 'clear violation' of U.N. directive


Staff writer

The House of Representatives adopted a resolution Tuesday to protest North Korea's rocket launch, but two of five opposition parties did not support the measure.

News photo
Retaliatory response: Lower House members on Tuesday pass a resolution condemning North Korea for firing what the motion terms "a missile" over Japan. KYODO PHOTO

The Japanese Communist Party voted against the resolution proposed by the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling bloc, and the Social Democratic Party abstained from voting.

The two minor opposition forces claimed it is not clear whether the North tested a ballistic missile Sunday or attempted to put a satellite in space, and the U.N. Security Council has not officially ruled the launch was in violation of its resolutions.

The Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties supported the resolution, which deems the rocket a "missile" and declares the launch a "clear violation" of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718, which ban North Korea from undertaking missile-related activities.

"North Korea's rocket launch is connected to its missile development, and it undermines the peace and stability not only of our country and Northeast Asia but also global society," Prime Minister Taro Aso said during a Lower House plenary session.

Aso said the government hopes to send a strong message to North Korea via the U.N. and UNSC while closely working with South Korea, the U.S. and other countries.

The opposition-controlled House of Councilors is expected to adopt a similar resolution Wednesday, although it is unclear if the Lower House's version will be used.

According to DPJ Diet affairs chief Kenji Yamaoka, the DPJ, Kokumin Shinto (People's New Party) and the SDP may jointly submit a new resolution.

An earlier resolution demanding that North Korea not launch the rocket was endorsed by all parties.

Rocket retrieval?

Kyodo News

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Tuesday he will consider salvaging the first stage of the North Korean rocket that fell into the Sea of Japan, if it is feasible.

But a senior government official later in the day highlighted the difficulty of finding, let alone retrieving, debris that could be lying on the seabed roughly 3,000 meters below the surface.

Reacting to Hamada's comment at a meeting of the House of Councilors Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the official said: "If it's in a situation where it could be salvaged, it should be salvaged. It's my understanding that locating it would be difficult because it's quite deep."

The booster apparently fell into the sea about 280 km off Akita Prefecture on Sunday, seven minutes after North Korea launched what it claims was a satellite-carrying three-stage rocket, according to the Defense Ministry.

The Self-Defense Forces and the Japan Coast Guard sent planes and vessels to the area where the debris appeared to have splashed down.

So far, however, only a slight change in the color of the seawater was observed about 300 km off Akita several hours after the launch, the ministry said. It is not clear whether the color change had anything to do with the debris.

Japan tracked the rocket by radar until it was 2,100 km east of the country in the Pacific after passing over Akita and Iwate prefectures.

After the first stage fell into the Sea of Japan, the rocket's remaining stages along with its payload fell into the Pacific, according to the U.S. military.



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