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North Korea's missile launch: Why Japan?

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When nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan this week, it sparked international condemnation. But it also raised the question: Why Japan?

Location, location, location

It might seem obvious, but geography is frequently a huge factor in geopolitical wrangling.

The Japanese archipelago forms a long string off the coast of mainland north Asia, so by definition, any regional player that wants to fire a medium- or long-range missile into the Pacific has to go over it.

Tuesday's projectile travelled around 2,700 kilometers from its launch site near Pyongyang before crashing into the ocean, around 1,200 kilometers off Japan's northern Hokkaido island.

Having threatened a few weeks ago to fire missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam -- around 3,500 kilometers away -- the range could have been selected to remind Washington that Pyongyang has the capacity to follow through.

But unlike cashing that check and risking conflict with the........

© Japan Today