The missile splashed down into the sea between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, according to the U.S. Strategic Command. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters the missile did not hit Japanese territorial seas. The North conducted two nuclear tests and a slew of rocket launches last year in continued efforts to expand its nuclear weapons and missile programs. Kim Jong Un said in his New Year's address that the country has reached the final stages of readiness to test an ICBM, which would be a major step forward in its efforts to build a credible nuclear threat to the United States.
Japan will consider increasing the pace of upgrades to its ballistic missile defense system in cooperation with the United States as the allies race to meet the threat posed by an effective increase in the speed of North Korean missiles, a Japanese government source said. A proposal to adopt a land-based Aegis missile defense system known as Aegis Ashore will be the main topic of a Japan-U.S. foreign and defense ministers' meeting in Washington next month, the source said Sunday. The Defense Ministry will request a budget for fiscal 2018 starting in April to include funds required to prepare for an Aegis Ashore deployment, according to the source. The number of Maritime Self-Defense Force ships with the Aegis missile defense system may not be enough to shield all of the Japan against North Korean ballistic missiles if they are launched with a higher trajectory to make them fall faster and at a steeper angle, the source said. Japan now has six Aegis destroyers, with four capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.