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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea missile eludes radar, posing challenge for Japan defense

Varying altitude, launch and fuel type complicate tracking efforts

Japanese Self-Defense Force personnel aboard the destroyer JS Atago at a joint training exercise on ballistic missile defense with the U.S. and South Korea. (Photo courtesy of Japan's Ministry of Defense)

TOKYO -- Japan failed to accurately predict the trajectory of North Korea's most recent ballistic missile test on Thursday morning because it disappeared from radar after launch, as increasingly advanced missiles complicate defense efforts.

Japan's Ministry of Defense saw a risk that the missile, launched at around 7:22 a.m., would land in the vicinity of the northern main island of Hokkaido, based on Self-Defense Force radar and other information. The Cabinet Secretariat issued an alert for the island about 30 minutes after launch.

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