On Tuesday, August 29, 2017, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from near Pyongyang that flew over Japan’s Hokkaido prefecture before falling into the Pacific Ocean over 1,000 kilometers from shore. This was the first time that North Korea sent a ballistic missile over Japan, and the third time since 1998 that North Korea launched any missile over the country. In response to this escalation, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe and U.S. President Trump condemned the launch and called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
According to Sasakawa USA’s Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow Mr. Taniguchi, speaking on BBC World Update on Tuesday, “militarily there is very, very little that Japan can do alone.” He went on to say that “the most important thing is to let the North Koreans and others be aware that the United States and Japan are the unified sun in terms of military capabilities, and that Japan should continue to spend more on anti-missile defense capacities.” Towards the end of the clip, Mr. Taniguchi recommended that the best response to North Korea is to continue the sanctions regime, making it clear to North Korea that there will be a cost for provocations.
Following the missile launch, Sasakawa USA Fellow for Economy Trade and Business Tobias Harris told Bloomberg Politics that despite the threat from North Korea, there are still significant obstacles to Japan developing preemptive strike capabilities. “Preemptive strike capabilities would be too heavy a lift for Japan right now and counter-strike or retaliatory capabilities are more reasonable,” said Harris. “But even they would be logistically difficult and time consuming.”