Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

North Korean golf shot?

April 3, 2009

An anonymous Japanese official has raised eyebrows with off-the-cuff comments as the country prepares for an expected rocket launch by neighbouring North Korea.

First, the official questioned whether Japan could really shoot down a stray rocket if its territory was threatened, next he — well, most likely ‘he’ — compared the looming launch to a wayward golf ball that would prompt the shout of “Fore!”, the traditional warning to watch out on the golf course.


A missile “would be to high and would not be visible, so from the people’s perspective, they won’t know what is happening. It would be neat if we could see it,” the Asahi newspaper quoted the official as saying.

“If it flies somewhere, one would feel like shouting ‘Fore’,” he added.

North Korea says the launch, planned for April 4-8, is for the peaceful purpose of sending a satellite into orbit, but the United States, South Korea and Japan see it as a disguised test of the Taepodong-2 missile.┬áBut Japan’s military has deployed its missile defences in case debris from the rocket threatens to fall on its territory.

Last week, the same unidentified official was quoted by Japanese media as questioning how effective such preparations would be, telling Japanese media: “You cannot shoot down a pistol bullet with a pistol.”

Cabinet ministers tried to reassure the public but they, too, acknowledge there are no guarantees that its anti-missile interceptors would hit an errant rocket or falling debris.

Picture credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

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