Japan has few military options. But an international strategy to delegitimise Kim Jong-un’s regime and threaten his dynasty could be a long-term deterrent

• Dr John Nilsson-Wright is a senior research fellow for the Asia Programme at Chatham House

North Korea’s provocative launch of a missile over Japanese territory is a brutal reminder of Japan’s strategic vulnerability and the limited options for its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in combating the growing nuclear and ballistic threat from Pyongyang. Abe’s characterisation of the launch as an “unprecedentedly grave and serious threat” captures both the tension of the situation and the intense irritation and frustration of the Japanese government.

Related: ‘Missile passing’: Japan wakes to ominous warning about North Korean launch

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