SEOUL (Reuters) - Japan said on Friday it could shoot down any threatening object falling toward its territory, after North Korea said a planned rocket launch would send it across Japanese territory.
North Korea has given notice to global agencies that it plans to launch a satellite between April 4 and 8, presenting a challenge to new U.S. President Barack Obama and allies who see it as a disguised missile test.
Under our law, we can intercept any object if it is falling toward Japan, including any attacks on Japan, for our safety, Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura told a news conference.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry said in a statement any such launch would be in violation of Security Council Resolution 1718.
If North Korea goes ahead with the launch, we believe there will be discussions and a response by the Security Council on the violation of the resolution.
North Korea told agencies including the International Maritime Organization the launch would take place over Japan in daylight hours and that the boosters would fall into the Sea of Japan and the Pacific Ocean, the IMO said.
North Korea has said it is sending a communication satellite into orbit, and has the right to do so under its space program. The United States, South Korea and Japan have said they see no difference between a satellite launch and a missile test because they use the same rocket, the North's long-range missile called the Taepodong-2 with a range that could take it to Alaska.
The only time the North tested the Taepodong-2 in 2006, it blew apart a few seconds after being fired. Analysts said the North appears to have made technological advances to fix flight problems and is confident of a successful launch.
The U.N. sanctions imposed after the 2006 test forbid further ballistic missile testing.
Giving the coordinates and letting everyone know that the boosters will drop in areas that are not a threat to anyone is a way of showing that they have acquired technical precision, said Cho Min of the Korea Institute of National Unification.
The notice itself, unprecedented for the reclusive communist state which previously launched ballistic missiles without warning, also indicates it is seriously troubled that the United States or Japan might try to shoot it down, said Baek Seung-joo, an analyst at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.
The North has said it would consider that to be an act of war.
Analysts do not expect the United States will intercept the rocket because the North Korean launch poses no severe or immediate security threats while a strike could greatly ratchet up tensions and increase risk to the region's major economies.
A 1998 launch of an earlier version of the Taepodong flew over Japan and dropped in the Pacific, which the North called a successful launch of its satellite Kwangmyongsong-1.
Japan Airlines Corp said that because of the launch warning, the airline would alter flight paths between April 4 and 8 on routes to London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Rome, Milan and Moscow, as well as Honolulu and Kona in Hawaii.
All Nippon Airways Co said that during the same period it would be altering flight paths on routes between Tokyo and London, Paris, Frankfurt.
North Korea on Friday again stopped crossings of South Korean personnel into a jointly run factory park on its side of the armed border, four days after cutting off military communication and temporarily suspending border crossings for a day, the Unification Ministry in Seoul said.
More than 200 outh Koreans who are at the Kaesong industrial park remain stranded at the plant just north of the border, once hailed as a model in reconciliation.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak urged the North to stop raising tension with its rich neighbor.
The North is threatening us from land, sea and sky, Lee said at the Naval Academy. It's not hesitating to threaten civilians as well as making military threats.
Analysts said the early April launch is timed to coincide with the opening of its Supreme People's Assembly and meant as a celebration of the re-election of leader Kim Jong-il as chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission.
(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz and Kim Junghyun in Seoul and the Tokyo Bureau; Editing by Bill Tarrant)