The Koreas | Security | East Asia

North Korean Media Criticizes Japan’s NHK for False Missile Alert

The Korean Central News Agency, in a commentary, accused the Japanese broadcaster of an “ulterior motive.”

Ankit Panda
North Korean Media Criticizes Japan’s NHK for False Missile Alert
Credit: Rodong Sinmun

North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), in a commentary published on Monday, criticized Japanese broadcaster NHK for issuing a false notice about a ballistic missile alert in the final week of 2019.

On December 27, NHK published a report in error saying that a North Korean ballistic missile had landed 2,000 kilometers east of Hokkaido’s Cape Erimo — evidently re-using data from a September 2017 launch, when North Korea had launched a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.

“Such ‘misreporting‘ that is often seen in Japan which brags of so-called high technology can be thought of as a mistake at a glance but it assumes too dangerous of an aim to be taken just as a mere mistake or misunderstanding,” the North Korean commentary said.

“It is a clear expression of the ulterior motive of Japan to incite a terror-charged atmosphere against the DPRK in its country and take the advantage of it to hasten the modernization of its armed forces for reinvasion,” the report added, suggesting that the NHK misreport was evidence of Japanese government policy.

NHK is Japan’s national broadcaster and operates as a publicly owned company under a government charter, but is editorially independent of the Japanese government. It is funded by licensing fees.

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North Korean state media has been sharply critical of Japan in recent years. In 2018 and 2019, while Pyongyang generally toned down its criticism of South Korea and the United States as it reached out diplomatically, criticism of Japan nonetheless continued.

NHK‘s misreported alert of a North Korean missile launch was not the first of its kind. In January 2018, an emergency alert system in the U.S. Pacific state of Hawaii broadcast a message to tens of thousands stating that a ballistic missile was “inbound” and that residents should ”seek immediate shelter.”

North Korean state media commented on that incident too, with the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea newspaper Rodong Sinmun reporting in February 2018 that an alert “was sounded in Hawaii of the U.S. to demand an immediate evacuation, plunging the whole island into appalling confusion.”

“What merits a more serious attention is that the anti-missile evacuation rows in the U.S. and Japan were neither regular ones nor ones by misinformation but premeditated moves to examine war preparations any time under war scenario targeting the DPRK,” the report added, suggesting that the false alarm was designed to raise concerns about North Korea.

NHK’s false alarm came amid an anticipated North Korean demonstration ahead of a diplomatic deadline for the United States at the end of 2019. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had warned Washington earlier in 2019 that it would have until the end of the year to change its negotiating stance in nuclear diplomacy with Pyongyang.