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Japan analyzing N. Korea ICBM launch claim

Japan is analyzing North Korea's claim that it has launched an
intercontinental ballistic missile, Defense Minister Tomomi Inada
said Tuesday.

While not stating any conclusion about its type, Inada told
reporters the missile reached a higher altitude than any previous
North Korean launch, likely having flown over a shorter distance than
its maximum range on a steep trajectory.

She said the missile launched earlier in the day could be a new
type of ballistic missile test-fired on May 14 or a derivative. Inada
spoke after North Korea's official media said the launch in the
morning was a successful test of an ICBM.

"ICBMs are ballistic missiles with ranges of over 5,500 km...we
can't determine at this stage whether this (missile) fits in that
category," a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Ahead of Pyongyang's announcement, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
said he will unite with the leaders of South Korea and the United
States in leading the upcoming Group of 20 summit to increase
pressure on North Korea.

"This missile launch clearly shows the threat is increasing
further," Abe told reporters after the government estimated the
ballistic missile likely landed in the exclusive economic zone
surrounding Japanese waters.

Abe said he will share his views on North Korea with U.S.
President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae In at a
trilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Hamburg,
Germany, for which he will leave on Wednesday.

"The leaders of the world will gather at the G-20...I want to
make use of this opportunity to strongly appeal for coordination by
the international community in responding to North Korea," Abe said.

Abe and Trump reaffirmed in a telephone conversation on Monday
that the Japan-U.S. alliance "stands ready to defend and respond to
any threat or action taken by North Korea."

Abe also said he will appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping and
Russian President Vladimir Putin to "take a more constructive
approach" toward Pyongyang.

North Korea said through its official media that the Hwasong-14
missile flew about 933 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 2,802 km
for 39 minutes.

"We absolutely cannot tolerate these repeated provocative acts,
and have lodged a stern protest with North Korea," Chief Cabinet
Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

On May 14, North Korea launched a missile that flew about 30
minutes over a distance of around 800 km before falling into the Sea
of Japan, according to the Japanese government.

A government source said at the time it would have a range of
more than 4,000 km if launched on a normal trajectory.

In March, North Korea claimed it had successfully tested a new
high-thrust engine for the development of a long-range ballistic

Some in the Japanese government fear that the United States
could resort to military action if North Korea does in fact develop
an ICBM capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

A military clash between Washington and Pyongyang would "give
rise to the risk of North Korea launching intermediate-range missiles
at Japan, which hosts U.S. bases," a government source said.

Others are concerned the pressure could lead Washington to
acquiesce to North Korean demands for dialogue without conditions.

"We will coordinate with the United States to call for China,
which has influence over North Korea, to strengthen its sanctions
(against Pyongyang)," a senior Foreign Ministry official said.

Washington imposed fresh sanctions last week on a Chinese bank
and individuals accused of laundering money for North Korea. (July 4)