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North Korea notifies neighboring Japan it plans to launch satellite in coming days

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, third from left, during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, May 29, 2023. Japan's coast guard said North Korea has notified it that it plans to launch a satellite in coming days. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

TOKYO (AP) — North Korea has notified neighboring Japan that it plans to launch a satellite in coming days, which may be an attempt to put Pyongyang’s first military reconnaissance satellite into orbit.

Japan’s coast guard said the notice it received from North Korean waterway authorities said the launch window was from May 31 and June 11 and that the launch may affect waters in the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and east of the Philippines’ Luzon Island.

Japan’s coast guard issued a safety warning for ships that would be passing through the area during the launch window. Japan’s coast guard coordinates and distributes maritime safety information in East Asia, which is likely the reason it was the recipient of North Korea’s notice.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed officials to do their utmost to gather and analyze information related to the launch and inform people about it, his office said.

Earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviewed a finished military spy satellite at the country’s aerospace center and approved an unspecified future action plan on its launch.

North Korea’s past launches have demonstrated an ability to deliver a satellite into space, but there are questions about the satellite’s capability. Analysts say the device displayed in state media appeared too small and crudely designed to support high-resolution imagery.

A launch to put a satellite into space would use long-range missile technology banned by past U.N. Security Council resolutions. The U.N. viewed the North’s past launches of Earth observation satellites as a disguised test of its long-range missile technology because ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles often share similar bodies, engines and other components.