Japanese authorities issued a “J-alert” to residents of the northeastern regions to evacuate to nearby buildings, the first such alert since 2017. Trains were temporarily suspended in Japan’s Hokkaido and Aomori regions before they were resumed operations after the government reported that a North Korean missile appeared to have landed in the Pacific.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that “the firing, which followed a recent series of launches by North Korea, is a reckless act and I strongly condemn it.” He said that he will convene a National Security Council to discuss the situation.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there have been no immediate reports of damage reported after the North’s missile launch. He said the missile landed in waters outside the country’s exclusive economic zone after a 22-minute flight.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it also detected the launch of what it called a ballistic missile that was fired from the North’s inner northern area. He said the South Korean military is strengthening its surveillance posture and maintaining readiness in close coordination with the United States.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said North Korea has launched an intermediate-range missile with a range of 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles). It’s a range that puts Guam within striking distance.
Yoon said he had called a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the launch and that the North’s “reckless nuclear provocations” would be met with severe response from the South and the broader international community.
The launch is the fifth round of weapons tests by North Korea in the past 10 days in what appears to be a response to bilateral military exercises between South Korea and the United States and other allied training involving Japan. In the past week. North Korea sees these drills as an invasion rehearsal,
The missiles fired during the last four rounds of launches were short-range and landed in the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan. Those missiles are capable of hitting targets in South Korea.
North Korea has tested some 40 missiles in some 20 different launch events this year as its leader Kim Jong Un vows to expand his nuclear arsenal and refuses to return to nuclear diplomacy with the United States.
Some experts say Kim will eventually try to use his expanded arsenal to pressure Washington to accept his country as a nuclear state, a recognition he believes is necessary to win the lifting of international sanctions and other concessions.