Japanese officials have expressed strong concerns about North Korea's missile development program in a recently drafted Defense White Paper.
The draft of the annual report calls the enhancement of the North's missile capabilities and Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development program a "new level of threat."
It notes that North Korea is trying to increase its ability to launch surprise attacks by firing missiles from a vehicle or a submarine equipped with a launch pad.
The draft says the ballistic missile launched by North Korea on July 4th is believed to be classified as an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM.
The paper notes that North Korea may start to believe it has secured a strategic deterrent against the United States if it successfully increases the range of its missiles and finds a way to miniaturize nuclear weapons.
The paper says that if the North overestimates its deterrence capabilities, it could lead to a situation that would be very troubling to Japan.
The draft also refers to the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, which made its first appearance in the West Pacific last December. The carrier is a sign of China's enhanced maritime military strength. The paper says China may step up its maritime military activities in the Sea of Japan.
This year's Defense White Paper will be presented to the Cabinet early next month.