TOKYO — North Korea has announced plans to launch a satellite into space soon, which has sent ripples of concern throughout the international community. With eyes anxiously trained on the isolated nation, Japan and other countries are wrestling with their unease, as they suspect this could be more than just an innocent space mission — a covert ballistic missile test could be in the works.

The details of the North Korean notification, issued by their maritime authorities, suggest a launch window from May 31 to June 11. If the launch occurs, the potential splashdown zones could span a vast area, impacting waters of the Yellow Sea, East China Sea, and even east of the Philippines’ Luzon Island. This potential danger to maritime safety has spurred the Japanese coast guard to swiftly issue a safety warning to ships navigating these waters, emphasizing the risk of falling debris.

Violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions

North Korea’s use of long-range missile technology needed to launch satellites violates United Nations Security Council resolutions. In addition, the country’s previous satellite launches have raised eyebrows, appearing to be disguised missile tests, amplifying fears surrounding this recent declaration.

Hirokazu Matsuno, Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, voiced his country’s concerns regarding the potential threat the upcoming launch could pose to Japan, the region, and the world. In response to the threat, Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada has put Japan’s Self-Defense Force on high alert, ready to intercept the satellite or any debris threatening Japanese territory.

The Japanese government has partnered with key countries, including the United States and South Korea, to closely monitor and collect vital intelligence on the unfolding situation. Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, stated that North Korea must cancel the launch to uphold regional peace and security.

South Korea is united with Japan, expressing stern opposition to North Korea’s planned launch. The South Korean government echoed Japan’s concerns, asserting that such an act violates UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting ballistic technology use. They warned North Korea sternly, cautioning that any provocative actions could further destabilize the region and promising to respond decisively in close coordination with the international community.

The satellite launch announcement comes during heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea’s missile tests throughout 2022, some of which are nuclear-capable, have put the whole world on edge. While North Korea states these tests are warnings against joint US-South Korea military drills, experts hint they’re part of North Korea’s broader game plan — modernizing their weapons program and gaining leverage over adversaries.