North Korea Worries Japan With ‘Super-Large’ Rocket-Launcher Exercise

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on February 20, using what the nation’s state-run media called a “super-large” rocket launcher. The launch came just three days after North Korea fired a long-range Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (icbm) into the waters inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and prompted Japanese officials to call for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting.

  • North Korea said its February 20 launch was in response to a United States-South Korea joint military drill conducted the day before.
  • The joint drill included American B-1B strategic bombers, which can carry precision-guided bombs and are viewed as a grave threat to the North Korean leadership.

The frequency of using the Pacific as our firing range depends upon the U.S. forces’ action character.
—Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un

Frightening Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that Tokyo is “requesting the UN Security Council convene an emergency meeting” over the launches. UN sanctions prohibit North Korea from using ballistic missile technology, so the organization is expected to convene over the issue today.

The launch of North Korea’s icbm-class ballistic missile on February 18 clearly shows that North Korea is pursuing the practical deployment of its icbms. Its recent series of actions are absolutely unacceptable, and are a threat to the peace and security of our nation, the region and the international community.
—Hirokazu Matsuno, Japanese chief cabinet secretary

Increasing provocations from North Korea are one of several factors driving the Japanese to abandon any semblance of pacifism and to return to full military power.

Learn more: The significance of Japan’s moves toward militarism is explained in our Trends article “Why the Trumpet Watches Japan’s March Toward Militarism.”