Japan could impose more sanctions on North Korea if it goes ahead with a planned rocket launch next month, regardless of its payload, and plans to raise the issue with the UN Security Council, government officials said Thursday.
"We will make a comprehensive decision, including the possibility of imposing tougher sanctions," Prime Minister Taro Aso told a parliamentary committee. He was responding to growing calls from lawmakers in his ruling Liberal Democratic Party to punish the North if it goes ahead with the launch, scheduled for between April 4-8.
North Korea says it intends to launch a rocket to put a telecommunications satellite into orbit, but many fear it could be used to test ballistic missile technology and have demanded it be stopped. The North is barred by UN sanctions from testing ballistic missiles.
Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said Japan considers any launch, even if the payload is a satellite, as a missile test. North Korea has indicated that the rocket would be launched in an easterly direction, taking it over Japan and the Pacific Ocean.