North Korea has launched a ballistic missile over Japan – the fifth launch in ten days – sparking concerns that a nuclear weapons test may be next.

The missile was spotted by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Japanese coast guard. Residents of northern Japan were advised to seek cover, while there were temporary suspensions of train services in the northeastern Hokkaido and Aomori regions.

Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida denounced the action as “barbaric” and noted it was the first North Korean missile to fly over or past his country since 2017.

In the meantime, the presidential office issued a statement in which Yoon Suk-yeol, president of South Korea, threatened a stern response.

The respective national security councils (NSCs) called emergency meetings.

According to a statement from Yoon’s office, Seoul would pursue additional sanctions against North Korea as well as other deterrence measures. “[The NSC] made it clear that continued North Korean provocations cannot be tolerated and that there would be a price to be paid.”


According to Tokyo and Seoul officials, the missile travelled 4,500 to 4,600 kilometers (2,800-2,850 miles) to a maximum altitude of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) before falling into the Pacific Ocean. The weapon was launched from a location in the north of the secretive state, close to the Chinese border, and was airborne for around 22 minutes.

Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada claimed Tokyo had not ruled out any options, including the use of counterattack functionality, despite its claim that no action had been taken to shoot the missile down.

Hirokazu Matsuno, a senior Japanese government spokesperson, stated in a news conference: “North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community, and poses a serious challenge to the entire international community, including Japan.”

According to U.S. reports, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken held telephone conversations with their counterparts in South Korea and Japan, vigorously denouncing the “dangerous and reckless” action to launch a missile over Japan.


Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the NSC, used the initials for North Korea’s official name in a statement, saying: “This action is destabilizing and shows the DPRK’s blatant disregard for United Nations Security Council resolutions and international safety norms,”

Blinken assured Seoul and Tokyo that the U.S. remained “ironclad” in its dedication to their defense.

The UN prohibits North Korea from testing ballistic and nuclear weapons; moreover launching missiles towards or over other countries without any pre-warning or consultation is against international norms.


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