You could almost hear the collective “Aw, damn,” from Japan’s Ministry of Defense Friday as a North Korean missile broke up soon after takeoff and plopped into the sea. Japan spends about $5 billion a year on missile defense and had mobilized forces throughout the country to shoot the missile down if it strayed anywhere close to Japanese territory. It would have been the first shots fired in anger by the Japanese since World War II.
“This was not a political show. They were really serious and they would have tried to shoot it down if it came inside Japanese territory,” says Takashi Kawakami, a professor of international affairs and a military specialist at Tokyo’s Takushoku University.
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