(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with KCNA reports throughout)
SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's main newspaper denounced Japan as a "malignant cancer" of the region on Tuesday, blasting Tokyo's push to deploy missile defense systems that Pyongyang claims can be used to invade other countries.
Referring to Japan's plan to set up a pair of U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore systems in the country, the Rodong Sinmun said the systems target not only the Korean Peninsula but also China and Russia.
In a commentary, the newspaper said the move is part of the country's broader scheme to become a "military giant" and carry out "overseas aggression."
Japan has stressed that the planned installations are purely for defensive purposes, citing the North's missile provocations. But the newspaper said the Aegis system can easily turn into an offensive weapon when loaded with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
"Japan hell bent on the moves for a military giant and reinvasion is a malignant cancer harmful to peace and stability in Northeast Asia," it said.
Later in the day, the North's official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) also carried a similar commentary, saying that "Japan has become all the more pronounced in its arms buildup."
"What matters is that the deployment is being pressed forward today when the Korean peninsula and the region have greeted the unprecedented warm wind of detente by the proactive efforts by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," KCNA said, using the North's official name.
"All facts prove that the descendants of samurais remain unchanged in their ambition to become the 'leader' of Asia through ceaseless arms buildup," KCNA said.
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