SEOUL, South Korea – The South Korean president's office on Sunday accused Japan of making a "fuss" over North Korean missile launches, suggesting Tokyo was contributing to the tense situation.
"It is not any good to heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula or aggravate the South-North relations and neither does it help to solve the nuclear issue or the missile issue," said a statement from President Roh Moo-hyun's office.
"There is no reason to fuss over this from the break of dawn like Japan, but every reason to do the opposite," the statement said.
Japan has proposed a resolution in the U.N. Security Council, calling for sanctions against North Korea for its test launches last week. China and Russia are opposed, but South Korea has not publicly taken a stand on the matter.
While the statement was critical of Japan, it seemed primarily aimed at domestic critics who have attacked Roh's government for not responding more quickly and forcefully in the wake of the missile tests.
Japan began issuing statements soon after the pre-dawn launches, but Roh's government did not publicly respond to the tests until mid-morning.
The South has suspended food and fertilizer aid to the North and rejected Pyongyang's request for military talks. But Seoul has also called for "patient dialogue" with the North and is pushing ahead with Cabinet-level talks with the regime later this week.
The statement said that the missile tests were not a surprise, and pointed out that no country declared a state of emergency after the launches — meaning Roh's government should not be faulted for also not ordering one.
"We can't make the people anxious by fussing over it," the statement said. "We have decided to respond slowly without raising our voice."