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By Elaine Lies and Hyonhee Shin
TOKYO/SEOUL (Reuters) -North Korea told Japan on Tuesday that it would launch a satellite between Aug. 24-31, its second such attempt this year, prompting criticism from Japan and South Korea that any such actions would be "extremely regrettable".
North Korea told Japan's Coast Guard on Tuesday that the launch would fly over the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and the Pacific, areas that Japan said are outside its exclusive economic zone.
The announcement came just days after the leaders of the United States, Japan and South Korea held their first standalone summit to project unity in the face of China's growing power and North Korea's nuclear threats.
North Korea launched a satellite on May 31 that ended up plunging into the sea. The new Chollima-1 launcher failed because of instability in the engine and fuel system, state news agency KCNA reported.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called on North Korea to halt any planned launches and said Japan was preparing its PAC-3 missile defence system and gathering information.
"A launch would be extremely regrettable," he told reporters.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, urged the North to drop the planned launch, calling it a "clear illegal act" against U.N. sanctions banning its use of ballistic missile technology.
"It cannot be justified no matter what excuse North Korea makes," the ministry said in a statement.
The May satellite launch was the nuclear-armed state's sixth such attempt, and the first since 2016, aimed at putting its first spy satellite into orbit to monitor U.S. military activities.
It prompted emergency alerts and brief evacuation warnings in parts of South Korea and Japan but no danger or damage was reported.
South Korea's military said after retrieving the wreckage of the satellite that it had no meaningful military use.
South Korean lawmakers briefed by Seoul's intelligence agency warned last week of another spy satellite launch by the North in the coming weeks, partly to mark its founding anniversary on Sept. 9.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has set technical improvements to the satellite as a "top priority in the second half of the year", the lawmakers said, adding that the spy agency has reported signs of engine tests since July.
"The upcoming launch has several purposes - while the anniversary internally, they would seek a show of force over the trilateral summit and the ongoing South Korea-U.S. military drills," said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.
(Reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo and Hyonhee Shin in Seoul; Editing by Deepa Babington, Stephen Coates and Gerry Doyle)