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U.S. Wrongly Reported “North Korean Missile Aimed at Japan”

U.S. Wrongly Reported “North Korean Missile Aimed at Japan”

Posted May. 15, 2005 23:17,   


“North Korea fired a ballistic missile at Japan.”

The Asahi Shimbun reported on May 14 that the Japanese government went into emergency situation when the United States government informed it of the above intelligence at around 8:30 a.m. on May 1, right after North Korea had tested a short-range missile.

An official at the Japan Defense Agency (JDA) received the information and immediately made a report to the prime minister’s office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In the middle of this trouble, senior officials at major government agencies had to come to their offices in a hurry, giving up their May Day holiday.

The situation settled after 30 minutes when the United States sent a modified intelligence report, saying, “We miscalculated the orbit [of the missile]. The missile was not aimed at Japan.”

Since August 1998, when North Korea test-launched a Daepodong missile, the United States has been frequently offering missile-related intelligence to Japan.

The “overreaction” of the United States over North Korea’s firing a missile is possibly because the United States Forces Korea (USFK) are within the range of North Korean missiles. At the same time, it is also interpreted as a way to put pressure on North Korea to return to the six-party talks as soon as possible.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com