politics

To shoot down or not? N Korean launch brings up intercept issues

65 Comments
By Thomas Watkins and Shingo Ito

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65 Comments
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Remember Fukushima.

The government kept telling everybody to stay calm, nothing to worry about, no risk to the general public etc.

Now it's the complete opposite.

The sky is falling, it's time to panic, hide under your desks, nobody in Japan in safe.

This has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with article 9 and billions in profits for the military industrial complex.

12 ( +18 / -6 )

Shoot it down......

7 ( +14 / -7 )

Recent missiles have flown far above Japan and nothing fell to the ground.

Waiting until something falls to the ground before giving the order to shoot it down is going to be way too late.

If you can do it, shoot it down, indirect or otherwise it's a threat, and that's what the SDF is supposed to be used for.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

If you can do it, shoot it down, indirect or otherwise it's a threat, and that's what the SDF is supposed to be used for.

Russian and Chinese satellites cross above Japan every day, at a much lower altitude than the NK rockets.

Why not shoot them down as well?

After all, they could fall and land on a school child's head.

1 ( +14 / -13 )

Are Russian and Chinese satellites a threat to the people of Japan?

2 ( +8 / -6 )

"...furthest-ever flight."

Japan and the US have about as much chance of shooting down a missile traversing Japan at ~750km altitude as the writers have of writing proper English.

11 ( +17 / -6 )

I'm very sceptical about the effectiveness and reliability of these multi-million dollar weapons systems to actually shoot down a North Korean missile. Maybe they are effective in carefully controlled test conditions, but I don't think they are used frequently enough in the real world to iron out the faults that probably exist but haven't been discovered yet. The military industrial complex sells billions of dollars in weapons which will never (or rarely) be used, so they don't exactly have strong incentives to make sure everything works as described.

For example, take the submarine based Trident nuclear missiles which the UK buys from the US for billions of dollars. These are supposed to be the most sophisticated missiles ever developed. Earlier this year they actually test fired one off the coast of Florida and it had to be destroyed after it started flying in the opposite direction towards Miami instead of out into the Atlantic.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

If they could shoot it down they would have so my best guess is they can't, or there is something up their sleeve for an emergency. Still other then that what does Pander man what? Popularity? Just an idea he could watch the History channel and see what happens to chubby des posts.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Easy PAC-3 doesnt't have the range needed. THAAD or Aegis Ashore are needed.

Also agree with many possible undetected Flaws in those Systems.

Link to the Patriot Missile System:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIM-104_Patriot

6 ( +6 / -0 )

A few thoughts. Why risk turning 1 dangerous falling object into 2? Also there is much to be said about not tipping your hand when it comes to capability. NK is trying to provoke everyone else into doing something so that they can claim to be the victim. NK is not going to do anything that puts Kim's regime at risk. All of this saber rattling is just a petulant child trying to gain the attention of the world. I agree that their missile and Nuclear Weapons programs need to be ended but how to accomplish it without a full scale war is the tricky part.

1 ( +7 / -6 )

I think missile interception system installed worked to recto into nearby sea. Didn't you read about JSDF insstalledsystem in for prefectures when Guam target story spreader APC3 Japan has created another kind. AGgI ASHOReAPC3. That will work on flat large area far from Ocean,, Onodera comment.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

If they know it is no threat why the J Alert? Oh right.... Abe wants to keep in power

4 ( +9 / -5 )

@patri: I think PAC3 worked in both Hokkaido. cases. If the sensor detect missile I sky, another section will be go. Pair the that an missile together fly over near sea and fall dow,was explanation then. But I. am surprised you are the only le who know about these.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

Immediately before reading this article I read another article suggesting that they didn't try to shoot it down because they would probably have failed, and such failure would have demonstrated that the Patriot missile system would not be effective against Kim's missile. It would also demonstrate that a lot of taxpayer money had been wasted and there was no effective defense.

http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/the-scary-reason-why-nobody-has-attempted-to-shootdown-one-of-north-koreas-missiles/news-story/66b2a67ef21952e3d4af0381d74de0e0

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Japan can't risk living up to its word to shoot down; they'd miss.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

It's all well and good for these jokers to spout, "Shoot it down!" but the chances of them actually shooting down an ICBM within a few minutes of its launch are extremely remote. It's like skeet shooting, times a few million. They have about 8 minutes or less from launch to intercept a missile at a safe distance from Japan. By the time the alerts went out the other day the missile was already over Hokkaido.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

The reason Japan does not share with Trump' is he has big mouth. Beside that,, the systems Japan invented are for defense,, not to create war.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Toshiko: "The reason Japan does not share with Trump' is he has big mouth. "

As opposed to whom? Aso? Onodera? Abe?

"Beside that,, the systems Japan invented are for defense,, not to create war."

hahaha! Hey, I e got a slightly used unicorn to sell you. Good bargain!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

I don't get it. Did NK violate anyone's sovereignty or airspace? If not what's your legal ground to intercept. Just because the missiles fly 500km over your head? yeah so do the ISS and thousands of satellites, do we shoot them down as well?

4 ( +8 / -4 )

I believe 770km is space, not Japan.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Either Congressman Dana Rohrabacher or The U.S. Pacific Command won't admit to what they're talking about, or worse, both have no idea what they're talking about. I'm almost leaning towards both have no idea of what they're blabbing about. The gung-ho one (the one who sided with Russia in the annexation of Crimea and is most likely paid-off by Putin) is advocating starting a regional conflict by for shooting down a future North Korean Hwasong-12 ICMB, while the other entity is saying it doesn't quite meet "the threshold" of launching an defensive missile launch from Japan.

This is what I get out of this. Rohrabacher is a 70-year old nursing home bound blowhard who knows that he has absolutely NO skin in this game, so he could practically care less what happens in the region, in so far it doesn't impact any of his personal projects that might be in the area. Judging by the way he's mouthing off, I'd say he has nothing to loose and everything to gain. The U.S. Pacific Command won't shoot down any of the missiles either because simply they can't, or they don't want China or Russia to accidentally get engaged in a regional conflict whereby everyone totally looses.

It's interesting that no one has declared that North Korea had committed an act of war, considering that twice missiles from a hostile foreign country entered over sovereign Japanese territory. There's obviously some calculus going on that the general public isn't privy to know about. It'll be interesting to see how the weeks and month evolve.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Weasel - as much as I detest NK, their missiles traveled through international airspace; not simply 'over' Japan. Not to mention the low probability that anyone could shoot them down at that height.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Fascinating stuff. Big money, geopolitics, missile defense limitations, risk averse nation embroiled in a high stakes game. Are we really surprised that Japan does nothing but watch them fly over. Who would do the public apology if they tried to shoot it down and missed right? Hate to be the cynic but cultural factors must be playing a role. Perhaps doing nothing is actually the prudent thing to do, who knows?

If the U.S and it's allies  "would have determined that it was a direct threat, we would have shot it down,"

If this is true, they are taking the pish.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japan will protest forever.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Shoot all test missiles down and take out any missiles being prepared at the launchpad. This would be an appropriate response to NK other than a full military response. Due to China and Russia nothing further can be done through the UNSC

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

There is no reason to shoot it down if it is flying over to a destination far away. Furthermore interception is only effective if it is coming down. If the missile appeared to be targeted to land within Japan it would have been intercepted.

The United States should fire multiple missiles from submarines to fly OVER North Korea and land harmlessly in the Yellow Sea. A bully usually doesn't understand what he's doing to others until someone does the same to him.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

This is the million dollar question.

We cant let NK keep shooting missiles over us, but for example, if Japan and the US retaliated over the 1st or 2nd launch over Hokkaido, things could be very different right now. Any kind of fighting could result in many many South and North Korean lives lost.

I believe that the right thing to do the last two times was done -to show restraint in a dangerous situation to not escalate it.

But if NK does intend to hit Japan with a missile eventually, what I'm saying isn't correct.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Russian and Chinese satellites cross above Japan every day, at a much lower altitude than the NK rockets.

This is nonsense.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

Forgot, airspace definition:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airspace

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For those of you who think there's nothing wrong if the missile flies "over" Japan, esp in space, I guess you won't mind if NATO or American missiles fly over china or Russia either. According to YOUR logic, they shouldn't retaliate or get upset either.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Toasted HereticToday  07:29 am JST

Are Russian and Chinese satellites a threat to the people of Japan?

Was this missile?

A North Korean missile not targeting land is an alarming provocation, but it's not in and of itself a threat. And it would be unwise to reveal your defensive system is all smoke and mirrors for nothing more than an alarming provocation.

I also wonder just how shooting down a missile is supposed to slow the North Korean ballistic missile system program. By the time a missile enters Japanese airspace (not that any actually have), I'd imagine the important part of the experiment is done. I'm no rocket scientist, but I'd imagine getting the missile into the air onto its course without blowing up is the major challenge. Once the missile is over Japan, if it's just an experiment, shooting it down won't stop North Korean scientists from seeing if it worked or not.

We need to be careful not to follow the example of Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher:

"Unless we demonstrate we're willing to use force, there's no reason for them to believe we will."

Force should never be used just because the user is afraid of looking weak. Bullies attack out of insecurity. Leaders attack out of moral clarity.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

BeowulfOkamiToday  12:22 pm JST

For those of you who think there's nothing wrong if the missile flies "over" Japan, esp in space, I guess you won't mind if NATO or American missiles fly over china or Russia either. According to YOUR logic, they shouldn't retaliate or get upset either.

I would imagine under the concept of "over" that is relevant for this story, America flies rockets "over" China all the time and no one complains. How else would we get supplies to the ISS?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

OssanAmerica: outer space is not Japanese space. They may think so, but it's not.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

BeowulfOkami: so, by your luck give all shuttles and satellites should be shot down. And lest we forget, Japan has quite a few spy satellites flying over NK. Where's the complaining and outrage?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Logic, not luck

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Was this missile?

A North Korean missile not targeting land is an alarming provocation, but it's not in and of itself a threat.

Sure but when the news cuts to a red alert about a missile launch, you can be forgiven for getting a bit jittery.

As ever; I am all for dialogue. But Kim is doing himself no favors and I worry that his counterpart in the US may get to fulfil his wish...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Chinese Ziyuan-3 spy satellite does indeed fly much lower over Japan as the orbit is maneuvered throughout Asia.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All satellites are launched are launched in an easterly direction. These launches would be same direction to maximize height and speed.

Anyone want to guess which direction northern Japan is situated from North Korea?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan's current system is the PAC-3 which can target a missile in the boost phase (but only if the order to shoot is given almost immediately) or when the missile comes down (must be relatively near the missile battery of course, not out in the Pacific where NK's missiles are landing).

The USA's newest missiles have longer range & can do a little better but still face similar problems.

Until NK target Japan or something goes wrong & one falls near a PAC-3 site or an AEGIS destroyer Japan's actual capability remains unknown, but I really hope that clear standing orders have been issued as to what/when to attempt an intercept. The "I've been in Japan too long" part of me can easily imagine the military JSDF bumbling around trying to contact a politician to get the final go-ahead & the missile impacting while they wait.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Either it will be South Korea or Japan who will shoot down the missile. And both do not want to take the risk considering the aftermath. Though it will be with the help of US army, the result will have to face by either of these country.

Japan should think why China and Russia do not have any problem with NK. Why the kid is not threatening to either of them but Japan.

Do no get mess for being a good loyal of USA. You already must have learned from China what is the real meaning of being the 2nd largest economy. To give a fight to the no.1 not to be the pet of no.1.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Anilinjaoantoday: "Japan should think why China and Russia do not have any problem with NK"

First, China has criticized NK for its nuclear weapons test, and even clearly stated it will not accept a nuclear NK, as a point of order. Second, even if you forget that you are wrong and bought into what you are saying, it would not be hard to understand why the CPU tries in question are more lenient and won't give into demands by other nations, who also sanction China and Russia (at least the latter... the former they just matter-of-factory say they want to alienate), to reign NK in since they cannot.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Why bother?  He is just firing into the sea.  He is unlikely to ever unilaterally fire missiles at Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There is a BIG difference between ISS & satellites flying over your country and a MISSILE designed to kill thousands flying over your heads. That's why we don't shoot down shuttles, ISS, etc.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I don't see any other conclusion besides massive conflict at this rate. There is no way the US will accept NK having the capability to extinguish half of mainland America (they probably only need about 100+ warheads or so to achieve that), so they will not be allowed to achieve that capability. It's NK's national objective to achieve this capability so the situation is irreconcilable. America's best options are to put all their military in place and have all missile sites targeted, then to start shooting down their test missiles on the launchpad if possible. The sooner the better as each day that passes gets NK closer to their MAD defence objective.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Who do you think supplies the weapons & missile technology to NK?

And the reason why it stays is because you KNOW there is an element of truth in it.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Perhaps the west should test fire a number of ICBMs from the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea simultaneously flying over NK to show them that their total destruction awaits if they continue their quest for weapons of mass destruction. The West tolerated Hitler for too long, look where that got us.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

One thing... if, as the armchair experts are saying, the SAMs are designed to shoot missiles down as they near their target... suppose, just for a second, that said missile as a nuclear warhead. Won't that create an airburst explosion over the intended target?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Zed Phillips: "Perhaps the west should test fire a number of ICBMs from the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea simultaneously flying over NK to show them that their total destruction awaits if they continue their quest for weapons of mass destruction."

Yeah... good idea! And where, pres tel, will they land? You'd also have them flying pretty much over Russia and China.

You guys don't think all that much before posting the bombast, do you?

"The West tolerated Hitler for too long, look where that got us."

There's a reason why Kim hasn't been taken out already, and it's not because they like him and want to preserve NKorean life -- it's because ANY act of aggression by the US or allies will lead to war "the likes of which we have not seen", not to mention, if it did not result in WWIII, the world's worst mass exodus and refugee crisis, and then already recognized nuclear power China swooping in to fill the vacuum and put it even closer to US and allied interests. You DO understand that the US and Japan would suffer massive casualties as well, do you not?

Again, there is good reason why military action has not already been taken, and is unlikely unless morons like Trump, or people who sit far away and love the idea of war, get to make the calls.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Thunderbird2: "suppose, just for a second, that said missile as a nuclear warhead. Won't that create an airburst explosion over the intended target?"

Not exactly. A nuclear detonation is a bit trickier than you think, and an interceptor, if used correctly, would ram its target with so much kinetic energy that the nuclear material would not go critical. That said, it's possible that it would result in a sort of dirty bomb and spread nuclear material over a certain radius. Would be far less devastating that if the missile detonated as intended, that's for sure.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Perhaps the west should test fire a number of ICBMs from the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea simultaneously flying over NK to show them that their total destruction awaits if they continue their quest for weapons of mass destruction.

By "the west", I presume you mean the US under Trump? Why? What good would that do? The US has detonated enough atomic and nuclear devices over the years, thanks all the same.

The West tolerated Hitler for too long, look where that got us.

Hitler was postively adored by many in "the west" for his position on communists, socialists, unions, artists, Roma, homosexuals and Jews. It was when the full horror dawned (and other things like Pearl Harbor) of his ambitions that certain countries came out of isolation to join combat. Anyway, threatening DPRK and hinting at total destruction is stooping to Kim's level.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Perhaps the west should test fire a number of ICBMs from the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea simultaneously flying over NK to show them that their total destruction awaits if they continue their quest for weapons of mass destruction. 

More and more nonesense.

I can see from the responses and the ups and downs that there are plenty of folks that don't actually think things through.

Oh the comedy!

0 ( +2 / -2 )

BeowulfOkamiToday  03:14 pm JST

There is a BIG difference between ISS & satellites flying over your country and a MISSILE designed to kill thousands flying over your heads. 

Actually, apart from the presence of a warhead/crew capsule, there isn't really much difference.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Actually, apart from the presence of a warhead/crew capsule, there isn't really much difference.

Same as there isn't much difference between Chinese or Russian fighter jets flying into Japanese airspace and Chinese or Russian civilian airliners flying into Japanese airspace.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They can work out the trajectory before a missile pierces the ionosphere, and they know it will overshoot. That doesn't make it cool, but probably not worthy of a takedown.

As for the hype, I got a feeling the other day when I saw that air raid sirens went off from Tochigi to all points north that the government was looking to make as many citizens feel impacted as possible, so as to drum up support for shaking up Article IX. Again, they knew that the rocket wasn't going anywhere near Ibaragi and Yamagata for example, but they rang the bell anyway just to get people to pay attention.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

katsu78Today 12:34 pm JSTToasted HereticToday  07:29 am JST

We need to be careful not to follow the example of Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher:

"Unless we demonstrate we're willing to use force, there's no reason for them to believe we will."

Force should never be used just because the user is afraid of looking weak. Bullies attack out of insecurity. Leaders attack out of moral clarity.

But that's not what Rohrabacher is saying. Unless one uses force after declaring that a certain action will result in the use of force, all credibility will be lost. And if all credibility is lost there is no possibility of negotiating anything.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Hack the ICBM system so that the nuke detonated before takeoff...while Kim and the gang are watching. Evidence of hack is destroyed so no one can be blamed.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Shooting down a missile, if effective, will demonstrate to Kim that developing ballistic missiles might be of limited benefit and result in the programme being scaled back.

It would also deprive NK of data on the missile's progress, slowing down the development of technology. It would also by psychologically reassuring to those living in the region.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What part of "They can't shoot it down," is not clear?

Oh, the comedy!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Trump. People only say military action but never said what is military action.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Maybe Japan installed AeegisAshorePAC3 everywhere in Japan?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Hack the ICBM system so that the nuke detonated before takeoff...while Kim and the gang are watching. Evidence of hack is destroyed so no one can be blamed. (juminRhee)

If North Korea is as backwards as most posters here seems to think, maybe those ICMB systems relies on primitive non-computerized manual electro-mechanical controls used in the 1950s and 60s. How do you "hack" into such systems?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Arent these "tests" announced well ahead of time? That part seems to be left out of the media craze to condemn and escalate the activity. The US and others do test fires in international waters all the time, pre-announced, and executed. Shouldnt North Korea be able to do the same? If we are going to abolish nuclear weapons, lets everyone get rid of them starting with the US. There are cheaper ways to destroy the planet, the time is long past for nuclear anyway.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

US Military budget is announced. $700 billion.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

China and Russia are operating joint military excise near NK and Ohotsk sea that is Japan's territory.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

US defense budget is passed. $700 billion. Within that, $640 billion goes to Pentagon to purchase weapons. But Trump. talk as if US has military poower to destroy NK.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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