SEOUL, Dec 20 (Reuters) – North Korea on Tuesday condemned Japan’s military build-up outlined in a new security strategy, calling it dangerous and vowing countermeasures, while also warning of another intercontinental ballistic missile test imminent.
Japan last week announced its largest military build-up since World War II, as tensions with China and rival North Korea and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stoked fears of war.
Japan’s effective formalization of a “preemptive strike capability” through its new strategy will bring “fundamental” changes to the security environment in East Asia, North Korea’s foreign ministry said.
The ministry also criticized the U.S. for “conniving and inciting Japan’s rearmament and re-invasion plans,” saying the U.S. has no right to question North Korea’s defenses.
“Japan’s stupid act of attempting to satisfy its black heart and build up armaments to invade again under the pretext of North Korea’s legitimate exercise of self-defense rights can never be justified and tolerated,” the official said in a statement, as reported by the Korean Central News Agency.
The spokesman used the initials of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, when referring to it.
North Korea would be unhappy with actions that highlighted Japan’s “wrong and very dangerous” decision, the spokesman said, warning that “shudders will soon be felt”.
North Korea has defied international sanctions this year by testing an unprecedented number of missiles, including an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) aimed at reaching the continental United States.
Several North Korean missiles flew over Japan or landed in waters near Japan, drawing condemnation from the staunch U.S. ally.
An ICBM test coming soon?
In a separate statement, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, hinted at technological advances in its intercontinental ballistic missile system and condemned questions over North Korea’s claims that it was trying to develop a spy satellite.
North Korea launched two intermediate-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Sunday, saying it was an “important” test of the development of a surveillance satellite it hopes to complete in April.
Kim Yo Jong scoffed at experts who questioned the level of North Korea’s satellite technology and suggested progress in North Korea’s missile program, including the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile at a steep angle, which analysts say would require more advanced technology to counter the heat generated during re-entry.
“I can reassure them,” Kim Yo-jong said. “If we fired an ICBM directly at a true angle, they would recognize it immediately.”
She dismissed any threat of new sanctions.
She said: “When our right to survival and development is threatened, how can we stop going forward because of the fear of sanctions. We have already experienced abhorrent sanctions, and this is not the first time.”
Hours after the North Korean statement, the U.S. Air Force flew B-52 strategic bombers and F-22 fighter jets to South Korea to conduct joint exercises with F-35 and F-15K fighter jets in their latest show of force against North Korea.
The participation of F-22 Raptor fifth-generation stealth fighter jets currently based in Okinawa, Japan, is the first since the allied forces held joint exercises in South Korea in May 2018.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to discuss any indication or the possibility of another ICBM test, but said it was monitoring North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities.
Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Stephen Coates and Robert Birsel
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