Japan's missile paranoia

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

in order to counter military threat from North Korea, Japan's Defence Agency plans to set up research on a system to shoot down ballistic missiles. The Japanese intend to borrow technology from the us Department of Defence, which is developing a similar programme called the Theater High Altitude Area Defence System ( thaads ).

Missile launches will be tracked by satellite, then intercepted by missiles launched from warships stationed in the Sea of Japan. That means shooting down a small target, travelling at around 3 km per second, within 10 minutes -- the time it would take a Redoing 1 missile to fly from North Korea to Japan. Redoing 1 is an updated, long-range version of the Russian Scud, used by Iraq during the 1990 Gulf War.

Many analysts believe that the plan may never materialise, because the five tests of thaads conducted so far have all failed. The agency refused to disclose details of the proposed technology, although it claims computer simulations have shown it could work in principle.

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