How can I independently verify that a missile was launched by North Korea and that it flew over Japan?


I live in Japan and this morning Japanese and Western news were full of articles about North Korea having fired a second missile over Hokkaido (Japan). Neither my colleagues nor I have seen or heard a missile. Nor does googling reveal any pictures taken by the public from this morning, nor from the missile on the 29th of August 2017.

We discussed the conspiracy theory that certain players are uncertain about how long the USA will back Japan and that they want to sway the Japanese public opinion towards reintroducing a scalable military force. Fake news is fabricated by Japan and its allies. Chinese and Russian national news agencies do not seem to mention the missiles. Hence, we would like to independently verify the missile launches and trajectories. For example from public data from weather stations or other.

This question is not about whether the conspiracy theory in the last paragraph is true or not!

  • 15
    Of course you didn't see or hear anything, the missiles were far too high up. You don't notice the ISS fly over, either--and the missiles were both higher and slower. Sep 15, 2017 at 2:00
  • 4
    @LorenPechtel Yes, that wasn't meant literally. It was meant to say we do not have anything to rely on except government statements. I'm sorry if that statement distracted you from the topic.
    – MPS
    Sep 15, 2017 at 2:30
  • 11
    @MPS That actually poses an interesting problem. How many non-government actors have access to the kind of sensors required to detect an unannounced launch of a NK missile as it flies?
    – Cort Ammon
    Sep 15, 2017 at 4:37
  • 1
    Given the speeds ICBM's travel at, you would struggle to independently verify such a test. Detection is usually done by a combination of several different methods, including adv. satellite imaging and Radar only accessible to state level actors. Your best bet if you don't believe one side is to critically analyse the statements the other side make. In this case, they've made it easy. I've not been able to find anything from the DPRK on today's test, but they have themselves said that first test was "the first step of military operations in the Pacific", suggesting more tests are imminent.
    – Miller86
    Sep 15, 2017 at 11:26
  • 1
    Would the North Korean government stating it had launched two missiles be useful? (I wonder how that would be reconciled with our reliable sources policy)
    – Golden Cuy
    Sep 15, 2017 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


Yes, North Korea did fire missiles over Japan.

This has been widely reported in western media: NYT, Independent, Russian media: RT, Japanese media: Japanese Times are just a few of many examples.

More importantly, DPRK media has also reported on the tests. Here is an article from the Pyongyang Times which collaborates the facts:

Japan is now unreasonably finding fault with the DPRK over its fire of Hwasong 12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic missile to the northern Pacific Ocean. It insisted that the DPRK’s missile fire was an intrusion into its airspace while organizing an evacuation. Indian newspaper The Hindustan Times and other world media said that the air within a height of 100km is widely regarded as belonging to territorial airspace, and since the DPRK’s Hwasong 12 missile flew at an altitude of 500km, it was beyond Japan’s airspace.

According to Wikipedia:

The Pyongyang Times is a weekly state owned English and French-language newspaper published in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. It is the foreign language edition of the Pyongyang Sinmun.

  • I think this answer would be improved by making specific mention of the altitude referenced in the Pyongyang Times article, which would explain the lack of eye-witness verification from friends or available photos that were mentioned in the question. Sep 19, 2017 at 17:11

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