August 2017 North Korean missile launch over Japan

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The missile flew on a regular trajectory unlike the missile launched on May 14, 2017 which flew on a lofted trajectory[1]

On August 29, 2017, at 5:57 am KST, North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 ballistic missile that passed over Hokkaido, the second largest island of Japan.[2] The missile travelled 2,700 kilometres (1,700 mi) and reached a maximum height of 550 kilometres (340 mi).[3] This was the second successful test flight of the Hwasong-12 missile, following three failed tests.[4]


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called this test "a reckless act of launching a missile that flies over our country is an unprecedented, serious and important threat."[5] North Korea had previously carefully avoided sending test missiles over Japan by using highly lofted trajectories, and had sent more recent satellite launches to the south avoiding Japan.[6] The missile was at an altitude of about 500 kilometres (310 mi) over Japan, well into space, and the Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the missile.[7]

Japanese citizens living beneath the missile’s flight path received a J-Alert message on their cellphones at 6:02 a.m., just four minutes after the projectile was launched, rousing some from sleep.[8]

The missile was launched from Pyongyang Sunan International Airport, presumably using a mobile launcher. It reportedly broke into three parts before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean; it is unclear if this was intentional.[4] Given North Korea's geographical position, for a non-lofted test flight at this range there was no other practical alternative to passing over Japan.[4]

This was the fifth time North Korea fired a rocket over the Japanese archipelago,[9][10][11] although this launch was the first missile launch, as the previous four were satellite launches or attempts.[6]

North Korean rockets flown over the Japanese archipelago
No. Date Model Area flown over Advance notice North Korean claim Satellite name
1 August 31, 1998 Taepodong-1 Akita No Satellite launch Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1
2 April 5, 2009 Unha-2 Akita, Iwate Yes Satellite launch Kwangmyŏngsŏng-2
3 December 12, 2012 Unha-3 Okinawa Yes Satellite launch Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3
4 February 7, 2016 Unha Okinawa Yes Satellite launch Kwangmyŏngsŏng-4
5 August 29, 2017 Hwasong-12 Hokkaido No Missile launch N/A
6 September 15, 2017 Hwasong-12 Hokkaido No Missile launch N/A
North Korean rockets flown over the Japanese archipelago

See also


  1. ^ "N. Korea's missile could be advanced IRBM: defense minister". The Mainichi. August 29, 2017. Onodera added that the latest missile flew on a regular trajectory, unlike the North's recent missiles that followed a "lofted" trajectory. 
  2. ^ "North Korea fires missile over Japan". The Guardian. Reuters. August 28, 2017. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  3. ^ "North Korea ballistic missile flew 2,700 km: South Korea military". Reuters. August 28, 2017. Retrieved August 28, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c Ryall, Julian (29 August 2017). "What was the missile North Korea fired over Japan and was it a warning to Guam?". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 31 August 2017. 
  5. ^ Barney Henderson, Julian Ryall, Neil Connor, Chris Graham (August 29, 2017). "'All options are on the table': Donald Trump says world has received North Korea's message 'loud and clear' after Kim Jong-un fires missile over Japan". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Wright, David (August 29, 2017). "North Korea's Missile Test over Japan". Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  7. ^ Pollack, Joshua (5 September 2017). "Why didn't the US shoot down North Korea's missile? Maybe it couldn't". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2017. 
  8. ^ Rich, Motoko (August 29, 2017). "Japan Wakes to a Text Message: Missile Approaching". Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  9. ^ "N. Korea fires missile over Japan". Japan News. Yomiuri Shimbun. August 29, 2017. This is the first time that a North Korean missile has flown over the Japanese archipelago since February 2016, when a North Korean satellite launch flew over Okinawa Prefecture. It was the fifth time overall. 
  10. ^ "Editorial: Japan needs to push for urgent diplomatic solution to N. Korea issue". The Mainichi. Mainichi Shimbun. August 30, 2017. This was the fifth time that a North Korean missile flew over the Japanese archipelago. In the past, North Korea had indicated in advance that it would launch what it called "rockets," apart from its first missile launch in 1998. 
  11. ^ "Japan, US look to cut off North Korea's oil supply". Nikkei Asian Review. August 30, 2017. Though this marks the fifth time North Korean missiles have flown over Japan, key differences from past cases indicate that the threat is greater this time. 
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