Where is Japan’s Territorial Sky?

Presumably right above it. But after the 1998 launch of a Taepodong II (which failed to deposit in the heavens the small satellite it was nominally transporting up there), the Nodong Sinmun took Japan to task over the technicalities of its claim to have been territorially infringed.  

It is true that our artificial satellite flew over Japan’s territorial sky and passed through the airspace of the Tsugaru Strait. However, it cannot be a “threat to Japan’s security” or a “violation of its sovereign right”.

Let us ask the Japanese authorities: Don’t you know what the territorial sky is, or an international strait, or the legal position of the airspace above such international straits?

As for the territorial sky, its height has not yet been internationally defined and the only general standard – that the height of the territorial sky should be extended only to a height appropriate to guarantee the security of each country – applies. So, over the past 100 years, the height of the territorial sky has been internationally recognized between 40 to 50 km. . . . Recently, however, some argued that the height of the territorial sky should be about 100 km, on the grounds that the flight altitude of ballistic missiles launched by many countries nowadays is generally within 100 km and that some of the satellites orbit more or less 100 km from the earth. As a result, nowadays, about 100 km is regarded as the height of territorial sky. No nation claims higher territorial sky, nor is it recognized. When it flew over the Japanese archipelago, our artificial satellite’s flying altitude was over 200 km.

Now, Japan alleges this as a violation of its territorial sky. What an absurd allegation it is!

It goes on:

The Japanese authorities say that we had not informed them of our plan to launch a satellite in advance and, therefore, this constitutes a “violation of international law.” Japan has launched dozens of satellites so far and has it ever informed us of any single one? If we are to follow Japan’s logic, it has violated international law dozens of times. The Japanese authorities claim to be reasonable and they have never mentioned this. Why? Nothing could be more absurd. Japan must remember this clearly: no regulations in general international law, or any space laws for that matter, mention the requirement for countries that launch satellite to make information available in advance

They sound almost reasonable when they put it like that.


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