News

DATE9/1/98 TYPE CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER2-237956 TITLE=JAPAN/ NORTH KOREAN MISSILE (L-ONLY) BYLINE=STEVE HERMAN DATELINE=TOKYO CONTENT VOICED AT: INTRO: JAPAN IS EXPRESSING STRONG CONCERN ABOUT NORTH KOREA'S TEST-FIRING OF A NEW TYPE OF MISSILE OVER THE NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN ON MONDAY. STEVE HERMAN REPORTS FROM TOKYO, OFFICIALS ARE ALARMED THAT PART OF THE TWO-STAGE MISSILE PASSED OVER JAPAN, ON ITS WAY TO A SPLASHDOWN IN THE SEA. TEXT: PRIME MINISTER KEIZO OBUCHI INDICATES JAPAN RECEIVED WARNINGS THAT NORTH KOREA WAS PREPARING A MISSILE TEST, BUT ANALYSTS SAY THE GOVERNMENT WAS CLEARLY SURPRISED AND ALARMED WHEN THE SECOND STAGE OF THE MISSILE -- APPARENTLY A NEW, LONGER-RANGE WEAPON FOR NORTH KOREA -- FLEW OVER JAPAN AND LANDED IN THE PACIFIC. GOVERNMENT SPOKESMEN SAY THE TEST WAS A DANGEROUS ACT, AND NATIONAL SECURITY CONCERN. THE PRIME MINISTER HELD AN EMERGENCY MEETING WITH HIS FOREIGN AND DEFENSE MINISTERS AND OTHER ADVISERS TO DISCUSS THE LAUNCH. OFFICIAL STATEMENTS HAVE SO FAR ECHOED CONCERNS EXPRESSED AFTER TWO PREVIOUS NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TESTS. BUT JAPANESE MEDIA REPORTS SAY THIS TIME JAPAN IS LIKELY TO GO FURTHER, PUTTING ON HOLD ITS COMMITMENT TO PAY FOR TWO NUCLEAR REACTORS FOR PYONGYANG. AS PART OF AN INTERNATIONAL COALITION, JAPAN HAD PLEDGED TO CONTRIBUTE ONE BILLION DOLLARS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THE TWO LIGHT-WATER REACTORS, INTENDED TO MEET NORTH KOREA'S ENERGY NEEDS. IN RETURN, PYONGYANG PROMISED TO FREEZE ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAM. SOUTH KOREA, ANOTHER CONTRIBUTOR TO THE COALITION, ANNOUNCED TUESDAY IT IS INDEFINITELY WITHHOLDING ITS CONTRIBUTION, BECAUSE OF THE MISSILE TEST. JAPANESE DEFENSE ANALYSTS SAY THEY ARE PUZZLED BY THE TIMING OF NORTH KOREA'S LAUNCH OF THE APPARENTLY-NEW TWO-STAGE MISSILE. THEY SAY PYONGYANG WOULD KNOW FULL WELL THAT THE ACTION WOULD SET BACK DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS AND HARM THE CHANCES OF GETTING MORE DESPERATELY-NEEDED AID, INCLUDING FOOD SUPPLIES. BUT THE ANALYSTS SAY THAT EVEN THOUGH NORTH KOREA IS ONE OF JAPAN'S CLOSEST NEIGHBORS, IT HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT FOREIGN NATION FOR JAPANESE SECURITY SPECIALISTS TO FIGURE OUT. (SIGNED) NEB/SH/GC/FC/WTW 01-Sep-98 12:51 AM EDT (0451 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .