Japan heightens vigilance after North Korea fires barrage of missiles

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
The Defense Ministry in Tokyo

The Japanese government has heightened its vigilance of rapidly escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula as North Korea began firing a barrage of missiles on Wednesday.

Defense State Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters at the Defense Ministry, “Today alone, North Korea is believed to have launched more than a dozen missiles and fired artillery more than 100 times toward Japanese waters, rapidly escalating its provocations.”

The government has analyzed the latest missile launches as a reaction to military drills being conducted by the United States and South Korea from Monday. However, a senior government official said, “As long as the military drills continue, we don’t know what kind of response North Korea will make.”

Tokyo is particularly concerned about Pyongyang’s seventh nuclear test. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference Wednesday, “North Korea will possibly engage in further provocations, including conducting a nuclear test.”

Matsuno expressed Tokyo’s intention to make every effort to monitor the situation and work closely with the United States and South Korea.

The Defense Ministry believes that North Korea possesses the capability to mount nuclear weapons on ballistic missiles, and that ballistic missiles fired by the country on Wednesday morning may have flown on an irregular trajectory.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada stated concerns about North Korea’s progress on the development of missiles that are difficult to intercept. “We can’t overlook its remarkable improvement in technology,” he said.