Prime Minister says he’ll keep Japan informed of NK launch

Japan Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is promising to swiftly inform the public of a North Korean long-range ballistic missile if it is launched.

“We will ensure that accurate information on the launch will be provided swiftly,” Noda, also head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, said in an interview with Jiji Press at his office ahead of the Dec. 16th House of Representatives election.  He says Japan will cooperate with the United States and other nations in urging the reclusive nation not to conduct any launch.

North Korea has said it will launch a satellite on a rocket, which is believed to be a long-range ballistic missile, some time between Dec. 10th and 22nd.  At the time of North Korea’s previous missile launch in April this year, which ended in failure, the Japanese government was criticized for a delay in information disclosure. The government obtained information from the U.S. military’s satellite-based early warning system immediately after the missile was launched, but disclosed the information some 40 minutes later.

There have been questions as to whether the government was able to provide necessary information to the public quickly at that time, Noda said, suggesting that the government is considering announcing launch information from the U.S. system as soon as it is obtained.

Toward the Lower House election, Noda criticized new parties aiming to form a third force that can rival the DPJ and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party.
Nippon Mirai no To, the Japan future party, which is led by Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada, has announced a plan to provide ¥312,000 in child benefits per head a year as part of its campaign pledges for the election. Noda is questioning the plan, saying that the party did not explain how to finance the measure.

As to Nippon Ishin no Kai, the Japan Restoration Party, Noda said he does not know whether its leader Shintaro Ishihara, acting head Toru Hashimono and other executives really share the view on nuclear energy and other policy challenges facing Japan.

The prime minister criticized the LDP’s targets of 3% nominal economic growth and 2% inflation, saying that the party has failed to unveil a real economic growth target.

Noda stressed that he will do his utmost to help the DPJ remain in power in the general election. He says the party aims to continue to be the biggest single force in the all-important Lower House.  Noda says that he will file his candidacy in a single-seat constituency in Chiba Prefecture, eastern Japan, and at the same time will be on the DPJ’s list of proportional representation candidates for the southern Kanto region bloc in the coming election.  Noda will be the second incumbent prime minister to do so after Yoshiro Mori from the LDP, who took the measure in the 2000 Lower House election