The Japanese MoD provided 30 minutes advance public warning about the possibility of a North Korean missile entering the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) on July 4.
The warning, issued when the missile was still in the air, was announced 12 minutes after Pyongyang launched the intercontinental ballistic missile that later harmlessly splashed down in the Sea of Japan.
"It was the first time for us to make such an announcement before the missile landed anywhere, except in cases where North Korea had preannounced missile launches," a senior ministry official was quoted as saying by Mainchi news daily Wednesday.
The ministry announcement, however, did not clarify the missile's forecasted impact point, aside from the possibility that it may reach Japan's EEZ. Some of those who learned about the missile launch through media reports complained that they wanted to know more details.
"Unless we know exactly where the missile is going to fall in the water, there's no way we can confirm the safety of ships operating nearby or launch search operations," a senior Japan Coast Guard (JCG) official lamented.
The JCG received tips about the missile launch from the Cabinet Secretariat that day before the Defense Ministry's announcement, and issued navigation warnings to vessels operating in waters around Japan via satellite and other communications at 9:50 a.m. The JCG also instructed its regional headquarters to prepare to dispatch patrol ships and aircraft, but had to wait for additional information from the Defense Ministry.
At 10:05 a.m., the JCG issued another navigation warning stating, "The missile may reach the Sea of Japan." At 12:26 p.m., the JCG released a further notice, saying, "The missile apparently fell into the Sea of Japan."