North Korea agrees to accept U.N. agency staff over missiles

North Korea has agreed to allow International Civil Aviation Organization staff to conduct an on-site inspection to ensure the safety of international flights from the country's missile launches, according to officials of the Montreal-based U.N. agency. An official of North Korea's General Administration of Civil Aviation gave the assurance when high-ranking ICAO officials visited the country in May, the officials told Kyodo News. The 192-member ICAO is now planning to send its personnel next year in order to verify what measures North Korea, also a member, has taken to keep unannounced missile launches in check as it pledged, they said. After its officials' trip last May, the ICAO said North Korea had promised to suspend activities hazardous to civil aviation such as test-firings of long-range missiles without prior notice. Pyongyang conducted numerous unannounced tests last year, posing an enormous threat to airplanes flying in the region. North Korea's nod to an on-site inspection is thought to be an effort by the country to win credibility for its pledge to halt to such launches and try to improve ties with the international community. The ICAO's inspections aim to ensure that member states comply with its regulations concerning the safety of international aviation. The last review of North Korea, implemented in 2008, was not related to missile launches. The upcoming inspection is expected to include visits to the country's aviation authorities and interviews with people in charge, according to the officials. An ICAO official said unannounced missile launches constitute a clear violation of international rules and that the next review will aim to know why North Korea repeatedly violated the rules and what measures it has taken to prevent a recurrence. Last October, the ICAO strongly condemned North Korea's persistent launches of ballistic missiles near or over international air routes without prior notice, saying they seriously threaten the safety of international flights. The Japan-led move called on the ICAO Secretariat to take measures to ensure North Korea complies with international standards pertaining to civil aviation safety, prompting the Secretariat to send senior officials to the country in May. When Arun Mishra, regional director of the Asia and Pacific Office, and Stephen Creamer, director of the Air Navigation Bureau, traveled to North Korea on May 7-9, Ri Yong Son, deputy GACA director general, expressed readiness to allow ICAO staff into the country for a missile-related inspection, the officials said. Ri also indicated an intention to send representatives to the agency's headquarters to give a briefing on the country's measures to ensure aviation safety, according to the officials. An Air France airliner flying from Tokyo to Paris in late July last year flew past an area where a ballistic missile splashed into the Sea of Japan off Hokkaido just several minutes later.

3 hours ago | KYODO NEWS

Olympics: Tokyo tests water sprinklers to keep streets cool at 2020 Games

The Tokyo government tested sprinklers on the capital's street on Monday to see how effective spraying water is in countering scorching heat expected during the 2020 summer Olympics it will host. The experiment, conducted on a pedestrian walkway along a road where competitive walking will be held during the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, showed sprinkling water would keep temperatures on the street surface up to around 5 C cooler than the surrounding air temperature. Heat has been a major concern for the games in Japan, where the temperature soared to a record high 41.1 C in July near Tokyo. The nation has already seen over 130 people die and 71,000 others taken to hospitals due to heatstroke or heat exhaustion between April 30 and Aug. 5. The Tokyo metropolitan government tested hoses with holes used for farming in three different settings -- using sprinklers from 4 a.m., 7 a.m. and not using them at all. Starting at 4 a.m. created some areas where the surface temperature was about 5 C lower than the air temperature, while other wetted locations also recorded temperatures between 27 C and 29 C even when the air temperature went over 30 C. In areas where no water was sprinkled, the surface temperature eclipsed 30 C. As it was cloudy when the experiment was conducted, a Tokyo official in charge of the experiment said, the results could be different if the weather is sunny. Tokyo already plans to introduce mist showers and special pavements to reduce the road surface temperatures.  

Aug 13, 2018 | KYODO NEWS

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