All national dailies reported on Sunday that North Korea launched two more short-range ballistic missiles from its east coast into the Sea of Japan early Saturday morning. The papers also reported that President Trump tweeted on Saturday that Kim Jong Un told him in a letter on Thursday that the missile launches will stop after the U.S.-ROK joint military exercises end. Nikkei said that in light of the increasing sophistication of the DPRK’s missile technology, the government is taking urgent steps to reinforce missile defense.
All national dailies cited a Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) report on Sunday claiming that the DPRK test fired new weapons this time that were “tactically superior” to the existing ones. Yomiuri and Mainichi reported that the ROK military authorities indicated that it is highly possible that the projectiles were a new type of missile. Asahi said that the ROK speculates that they were new surface-to-surface ballistic missiles.
Monday’s Nikkei cited a KCNA report on Sunday as saying that a senior DPRK foreign ministry official justified the latest missile launches by claiming that President Trump condones North Korea’s development of conventional weapons because many countries test fire small missiles, recognizing the DPRK’s “right to self-defense as a sovereign state.” NHK reported on Sunday that Japan’s Defense Ministry dismissed the DPRK’s claim on the same day, calling it an attempt to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington. The Defense Ministry said Japan and the U.S. are in sync on the issue of North Korean missiles and the defense ministers of both countries have agreed to work together to persuade the DPRK to dismantle all types of ballistic missiles.