It’s Japan’s ultimate nightmare: a RQ-4 Global Hawk belonging to Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is watching a North Korean medium-range ballistic missile being readied for launch. The missile is being fueled, a process that can take hours. The incident follows days of incendiary North Korean rhetoric about Japan disappearing in a “wall of nuclear flames.” Reluctantly, Japan’s prime minister approves a preemptive strike designed to destroy the missile before it is ready for launch.
The scenario above is fiction, particularly Japan’s ability to launch a preemptive strike. But what if Japan could launch such an attack, and what would the East Asian country require to ensure the strike was a success?