North Korea fires projectiles after offering talks with US

People watch a TV showing a file image of a North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Sept. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Updated 10 September 2019

North Korea fires projectiles after offering talks with US

SEOUL, South Korea: North Korea launched at least two unidentified projectiles toward the sea on Tuesday, South Korea’s military said, hours after the North offered to resume nuclear diplomacy with the United States but warned its dealings with Washington may end without new US proposals.
The North’s projectile launches and demand for new proposals were apparently aimed at pressuring the United States to make concessions when the North Korea-US talks restart. North Korea is widely believed to want the United States to provide it with security guarantees and extensive relief from US-led sanctions in return for limited denuclearization steps.
The North Korean projectiles fired from its South Phyongan province, which surrounds its capital city of Pyongyang, flew across the country and in the direction of the waters off its east coast, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Ministry.
The military said South Korea will monitor possible additional launches by North Korea but gave no further details like exactly what projectile North Korea fired.
Tuesday’s launches were the eighth such launches since late July and the first since Aug. 24. The previous seven launches have revealed short-range missile and rocket artillery systems that experts say would potentially expand its capabilities to strike targets throughout South Korea, including US military bases there.
On Monday night, the North’s first vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, said North Korea is willing to resume nuclear diplomacy with the United States in late September but that Washington must come to the negotiating table with acceptable new proposals. She said if the proposals don’t satisfy North Korea, dealings between the two countries may come to an end.
President Donald Trump called North Korea’s announcement “interesting.”
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “In the meantime, we have our hostages back, we’re getting the remains of our great heroes back and we’ve had no nuclear testing for a long time.”
There was no immediate comment from the White House following reports of the launches.
South Korea’s presidential office said national security adviser Chung Eui-yong presided over an emergency National Security Council meeting where officials expressed “strong concern” over the continuing short-range launches by the North.
In the late-night statement carried by state media, Choe said North Korea is willing to sit down with the United States “for comprehensive discussions in late September of the issues we have so far taken up, at a time and place to be agreed.”
Choe said she hopes the United States will bring “a proposal geared to the interests of the DPRK and the US and based on decision methods acceptable to us.” DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name.
She warned that “if the US side fingers again the worn-out scenario which has nothing to do with new decision methods at the DPRK-US working negotiation to be held with so much effort, the DPRK-US dealings may come to an end.”
Talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament fell apart in February when Trump rejected North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s demand for sweeping sanctions relief in return for partial disarmament at their second summit in Vietnam.
It was a huge embarrassment for the young North Korean leader, who made a dayslong train trip to the Vietnamese capital to obtain the sanctions relief he needs to revitalize his country’s troubled economy.
In April, Kim said he was open to another summit with Trump but set the end of the year as a deadline for the US to offer improved terms for an agreement to revive the nuclear diplomacy.
Kim and Trump met again at the Korean border in late June and agreed to restart diplomacy, but there have no public meetings between the sides since then.
In recent months, North Korea has carried out a slew of missile and rocket tests to protest joint military drills between the US and South Korea that North Korea views as an invasion rehearsal. Some experts said the North Korean weapons tests were also a demonstration of its expanding weapons arsenal aimed at boosting its leverage ahead of new talks with the United States.
Most of the North Korean weapons tested in July and August have been short range. This suggests that North Korea hasn’t wanted to lift its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, which would certainly derail negotiations with Washington.
Trump has downplayed the latest North Korean weapons tests, saying the US never restricted short-range tests.
Some experts said Trump’s repeated downplaying of North Korea’s recent launches allowed the country to speed up its weapons development while it seeks to build leverage ahead of negotiations with Washington.
By repeatedly firing the short-range weapons system that directly threaten South Korea but not the US mainland or its Pacific territories, Pyongyang is also seen as pressuring Seoul to coax major concessions from Washington on its behalf. The North, while recently ignoring the South’s pleas for talks, has also demanded that Seoul turn away from Washington and restart inter-Korean economic projects currently held back by US-led sanctions against the North.


Tradition, modernity mingle at Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shouts “banzai,” meaning “long live the emperor,” during the enthronement ceremony for Emperor Naruhito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. (AFP)
Updated 57 min 59 sec ago

Tradition, modernity mingle at Japanese Emperor Naruhito’s enthronement

  • Ritual-bound, centuries-old ceremony takes places at Imperial Palace in Tokyo
  • Heads of state and officials from Japan and 180 countries among the attendees

TOKYO: It was a ceremony similar to coronations used by monarchs worldwide, but combining the historical and the spiritual with modernity. Japan’s Emperor Naruhito formally completed his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Oct. 22.
Purple curtains were drawn back to reveal Naruhito, 59, and Empress Masako, 55, standing before their imperial thrones as the enthronement ceremony began.
Wearing a dark orange robe, similar to that worn by his father Akihito at his own enthronement in 1990, Naruhito proclaimed his ascension from a 6.5 meter-high, canopied “Takamikura” throne.
Through the centuries-old ceremony, Naruhito declared himself Japan’s 126th emperor and vowed to “stand with the people” before roughly 2,000 guests, including heads of state and officials from Japan and more than 180 countries. Among the attendees were Japanese royal family members also wearing traditional robes.
In his congratulatory message to the emperor, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised that the people of Japan would “respect (his) highness the emperor as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the Japanese people.” He then stood before Naruhito’s throne, bowed and raised his hands three times, shouting “banzai,” meaning “long live the emperor.”
Saudi Arabia was represented by Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz, who conveyed greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Japanese people.Saudi Ambassador to Japan Naif bin Marzouq Al-Fahadi, and other Saudi officials, were also present.

Japan’s Princess Mako attended the enthronement ceremony. (AFP)


The enthronement ceremony is a part of a succession of rituals that began in May when Naruhito inherited the throne, after Akihito became the first emperor to abdicate in 200 years.
As Naruhito ascended the throne, boxes containing items of imperial regalia, including an imperial sword and jewel, were presented to him.
“Having previously succeeded to the Imperial Throne in accordance with the constitution of Japan and the Special Measures Law on the Imperial House Law, I now … proclaim my enthronement to those at home and abroad,” the Japan Times newspaper quoted Naruhito as declaring.
“I pledge hereby that I shall act according to the constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state, and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always wishing for the happiness of the people and the peace of the world, turning my thoughts to the people and standing by them.” An imperial procession that was to take place after the ceremony was postponed after Typhoon Hagibis hit Tokyo earlier this month. On Nov. 10, the emperor and empress will take part in a procession through central Tokyo to the Akasaka Imperial Residence.
To mark the enthronement, the government has granted pardons to more than half a million people found guilty of petty crimes such as traffic violations.
In an article for Arab News, Shihoko Goto, deputy director for geoeconomics at the Asia Program of the US think tank the Wilson Center, asked a question she believes will be echoed by many in Japan: “Can the country carry on its historical legacy while embracing the opportunities of the 21st century? “The new imperial couple is likely to want to further Emperor Akihito’s legacy as a conduit for reconciliation.”