A little cryptic title for my long-overdue first post in 2013, but I’ll quickly explain. Having a wisdom tooth removed is not an experience I would wish on many people, yet is something I had to go through this past week. A couple of weeks ago I got a pain at the back of my [...]
NK Missile Launch Flies Over Okinawa, Japan
At 9:51 this morning a rocket was fired from northwestern DPRK into the skies, heading south. The rocket flew over southern Japan, namely Okinawa and going right over the island of Ishigaki, with the last pieces of debris falling into the ocean near the Philippines, early reports are saying.
Whether this was actually an attempted satellite launch (unknown yet if it was a success or not) as the DPRK are claiming, or a long-range missile test is up for debate, but it seems to have traveled further than previous attempts, and I think I’ve lost on the sweepstake (my money was on a flight time of 2 minutes).
The launch was followed by the phones at work suddenly going crazy with emails from the Prefectural Office warning everyone of impending doom, and just as they were coming through I heard fighters scramble from Kadena US Air Force base here in Okinawa. And with fair reason, if you look below at this image from BBC News.
The planned launch was due to fly right over Ishigaki, and early reports are saying it stuck to its course pretty well. Now I haven’t got my ruler and measuring tape out, but it certainly looks like it’s gone much further than any previous launches, and the DPRK government, you would expect, would be pleased. If it was a satellite launch, whether the satellite has actually reached an orbit will be determined over the coming hours and days.
But once again the theme from the Japanese government has been, “Lots of rhetoric, no action”. Just days ago, we were told that the Japanese military had been told by the government to shoot down the rocket should any part of it threaten to fall on Japanese territory. If the rocket has stuck to its course then it’s gone right over a Japanese island and through the Okinawan prefecture, with the Japanese government stating no attempt was made to bring it down. Now the only explanations are:
- The Defence Ministry had supreme confidence that the launch was successful and was therefore posing no danger to Japanese people.
- They thought seeing as it was going over Okinawa it wasn’t worth the effort.
Now call me a cynic (probably one of the kinder things I’ve been called) but if that launch had gone over Tokyo (where they’d put PAC 3 launchers on the top of the Defence Ministry building) then there’s no doubt it would have been downed.
Anyway, that’s the excitement from Japan right now. I’m expecting some disappointment from the opposition LDP party, who are expected to come back into power at next week’s election. I am fairly confident they were hoping it would come closer to the mainland, so they could shoot it down and strengthen their claims that Japan’s military (sorry, self-defence forces) should be expanded.
Will update if I hear anything more of real interest.
UPDATE: The Japanese government has made a statement regarding the launch. They have described it as… wait for it… “extremely regrettable”. Almost spat out my coffee when I read that! You just knew that word was going to crop up!
UPDATE 2: The US is now reporting that an object has been put into space by the rocket. So it’s looking like this launch was a clear success.