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Japan Govt took 43 minutes to announce missile launch

It was not until 8:23 a.m., 43 minutes after the launch, that the Japanese government officially confirmed the launch. -Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN

Sat, Apr 14, 2012
The Yomiuri Shimbun/Asia News Network

The government's slow response to North Korea's launch of a ballistic missile has once again exposed its inefficiency at handling information, mirroring its response to another North Korean missile launch in 2009.

The government said Friday it had not confirmed the launch even though it had received information from both South Korean and US governments.

In 2009, the Japanese government mistakenly announced that Pyongyang had launched a missile before it actually did.

According to sources, the launch was first detected by a US early warning satellite, and the information was immediately sent to the Defense Ministry.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura was informed of the launch two minutes later.

South Korean and US media began reporting the incident at around 8 a.m. after obtaining the information from US authorities.

The Japanese government issued a written statement at 8:05 a.m. However, in the statement, the government said it had not confirmed the launch, thereby seemingly denying US and South Korean reports.

It was not until 8:23 a.m., 43 minutes after the launch, that the Japanese government officially confirmed the launch had occurred at a press conference led by Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka.

The government's J-Alert nationwide warning system was also not activated.

Local governments were not informed that the missile would have no impact on Japanese territory until nearly one hour after launch.

The information was sent over the Em-Net system, which enables the central government to simultaneously send information to multiple local governments on a dedicated line.

Fujimura said at a press conference it was the government's policy to double-check information.

Shinji Tanrutoko, acting secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said, "[It means the missile] might have fallen before it was detected by Japanese radars."

Analysts suspect the government was slow in making the announcement because it took some time for government officials to confirm the launch with Japan's own radar.

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