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Wednesday, September 2, 1998 Published at 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

North Korean missile unnerves Japan

North Korean missile units parade in Pyongyang

The Japanese Government says the launch by North Korea on Monday of a medium-range missile has created a new sense of urgency for the country to bolster its defence technology.

But the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, has accused Japan of making an unnecessary "fuss" over the tests and "making provocative remarks" against North Korea.

"Many countries around Japan possess or have deployed missiles. Japanese politicians, however, hurl mud only at the DPRK [North Korea] while being unaware of the background.

"They emanate from the longstanding hostile policy towards the DPRK," the North Korean news agency said.

Missile defence

In Japan, the Chief Cabinet secretary, Hiromu Nonaka, said the government would consider setting up an intelligence satellite and possibly a missile defence system.

[ image: Japanese ships have been searching for remains of the missile]
Japanese ships have been searching for remains of the missile
The Japanese government also decided on Wednesday to stop all charter flights to and from North Korea, because the firing posed "serious dangers" to air traffic.

"We bitterly denounce Japan for making a fuss over the matter that belongs to our sovereignty while being unaware of its background," KCNA said.

Government officials have already announced that Japan is to abandon its offer to resume talks to establish diplomatic ties with North Korea and suspend food aid in protest at the firing of the missile.

Missile threat

North Korea launched the newly developed Taepo-Dong 1 missile on Monday. With an estimated range of 1,500-2,000 kilometers it is capable of hitting any part of the Japanese islands.

The two stage rocket overflew the Japanese mainland and is thought to have landed in the Pacific Ocean.

Meanwhile in the United States, a senior congressman has warned that new food aid to North Korea could also be jeopardised.

Benjamin Gilman, the chairman of the International Relations Committee, said the missile firing had been a provocative act.

He called for talks on providing assistance to North Korea to deal with the country's acute food shortages to be suspended.

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