On Sunday morning September 25, North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, continuing its aberrant behavior. This was the 19th missile, including cruise missile launchings, the reclusive dictatorship has fired off since the beginning of 2022.
Although there are no reports of damage to ships or aircraft following the latest launching, it is extremely dangerous behavior that must be taken seriously.
The situation is very sobering in terms of the security of Japan and the rest of the world. Japan must work with the international community to make North Korea desist from its pattern of reckless violence.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada explained that the North Korean missile reached a maximum altitude of approximately 50 kilometers and, if it was a normal trajectory type missile, it would have flown roughly 400 kilometers and landed near the east coast of North Korea. However, the missile might have had an irregular trajectory. It is believed to have hit the water outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff Headquarters, a short-range ballistic missile was launched from near Taechon in North Korea’s northwest province of Pyonganbukdo and landed in the Japan Sea. It apparently flew about 600 kilometers.
Although the South Korean authorities issued a warning concerning the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by North Korea, that appears to have been in connection with a different missile.
Joint Exercises Nearby
Recently the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan entered Pusan Harbor in South Korea in order to participate in joint exercises involving United States and South Korean troops. The launching might have been a reaction to that development. However, it cannot be overlooked that every one of North Korea’s missile launchings violates United Nations Security Council resolutions and cannot be condoned.
Since Japan does not have formal diplomatic relations with North Korea, the Foreign Ministry went through the embassy in Beijing to deliver a protest to Pyongyang. But the matter cannot be left at that. Criticism and protests alone are insufficient to preserve the lives and security of the Japanese people.
The fact is that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has consistently turned a deaf ear to criticisms from the international community. To the contrary, observers fear that Pyongyang will soon up the ante by launching an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) and conducting its 7th nuclear weapons test.
Ominously, the Kim regime recently officially legalized its use of nuclear weapons.
We in Japan cannot predict when North Korean missiles might come flying over our heads, but the nation remains constantly exposed to that menace. It is imperative that Japan beef up the nation's defense assets, including acquiring counterstrike capability and adopting an adequate missile defense posture.
Irresponsible Chinese and Russian Posture
One thing that needs to be borne in mind is that North Korea’s actions have received at least tacit support from China and Russia.
Just this May 2022 in the UN Security Council, those two countries used their vetoes to block a resolution that would have toughened UN sanctions on North Korea. If the questionable behavior of China and Russia continues, Pyongyang will simply continue taking advantage of the situation.
The Japanese people cannot afford to become used to the missile launchings simply because they have not as yet caused any physical damage. That is just the reaction North Korea would like to see.
Instead, collaborating with the United States, South Korea and other members of the international community is essential to strengthening our collective vigilance regarding North Korea.
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- Japan Defense Ministry to Acquire 1500 Long-Range Missiles
(Read the editorial in Japanese at this link.)
Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun