Japan: High-performance DPRK cruise missile could be difficult to detect
The Japanese government is analyzing a new long-range cruise missile that North Korea is believed to have tested on the weekend, fearing it will pose a new threat to Japan if North Korea is telling the truth about the missile's performance.
"If a missile capable of flying 1,500 kilometers really was launched, it would threaten the peace and security of the region surrounding Japan, and we're concerned about that," Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Monday at a press conference.
Cruise missiles usually fly below the speed of sound and take longer to land than ballistic missiles. High-performance cruise missiles, in contrast, are difficult to detect and intercept because they move along terrain at low altitudes.
If Japan was attacked by a cruise missile, the Self-Defense Forces would intercept it with a Type-03 Medium-range Surface-to-air Missile and other equipment based on radar information from around the nation. However, it is believed that the recent launch was not detected because its flight range was limited to North Korean airspace.
North Korea already possesses a number of ballistic missiles capable of reaching Japan.
"This cruise missile is not a threat that would immediately shake up Japan's defense, but if North Korea diversifies its means of attack, interception will become more difficult," a senior Defense Ministry official said.
Takehiro Funakoshi, director general of the Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, met on Monday with Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea's special representative for peace and security affairs on the Korean peninsula, during his visit to Japan. The two exchanged opinions on the latest missile launch.
Funakoshi and Noh held a three-way meeting with U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim on Tuesday at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo to discuss the North Korean situation. The meeting had been scheduled before North Korea's announcement about the latest launch. The previous three-way meeting was held in June in Seoul.
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