Japan plays down N. Korean missile launch

May 2, 2005 at 4:43 AM
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TOKYO, May 2 (UPI) -- Japan has played down the impact on its security of North Korea's firing of a short-range missile in the Sea of Japan on Sunday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Hosoda denied that the missile launch constituted a violation of the 2002 Pyongyang Declaration in which North Korea promised to refrain from launching missiles at Japan, the Mainichi Shimbun reported Monday.

"The missile targeted the sea around (North Korea)," Hosoda told a news conference Monday morning. "It doesn't have a range of hundreds of miles."

Washington notified Japan's Defense Agency on Sunday that a missile with a range of some 62 miles had been fired from the east coast of North Korea Sunday morning.

A high-ranking Defense Agency official said the agency believes that the missile was a Silkworm surface-to-ship missile, fired as part of a coast guard drill North Korea has been conducting over the past few days.

In October 2003, North Korea fired three Silkworm missiles, and may have launched another in June last year, the newspaper reported.

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