North fires ballistic missile into sea between Koreas, Japan

North fires ballistic missile into sea between Koreas, Japan

North Korea

The launch prompted Japan to briefly issue an evacuation order for a northern island.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea launched a ballistic missile on a high angle that landed between the Korean Peninsula and Japan early Thursday, continuing its provocative run of weapons tests. The launch prompted Japan to issue an evacuation order that was later retracted for a northern island, showing the vigilance of North Korea’s neighbors over its evolving missile threats.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staffs said the missile launched from near the North Korean capital Pyongyang flew toward the waters off the North’s east coast. The statement described the missile as having a medium or longer range but didn’t say how far it flew.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that North Korea launched a possible intercontinental ballistic missile on a high angle. Hamada said the missile did not reach Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters he planned a National Security Council meeting to discuss the launch. Asked over the accuracy of Japan’s information dissemination about future North Korean launches, Kishida said the government is checking related information including alerts.

North Korea commonly test-launches missiles toward the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. All its past ICBM launches were made in the area, but on elevated trajectories to avoid neighboring countries.

South Korea and Japan typically don’t issue evacuation orders for North Korean launches unless they determine weapons flew in the direction of their territories.

But after Thursday’s launch, the Japanese government urged people on the northernmost island of Hokkaido to seek shelter. The government then corrected and retracted its missile alert, saying its analysis showed there was no possibility of a missile landing near Hokkaido.

It was unclear why Japan issued the order for a missile that didn’t fall near the island, but the incident suggested it was being cautious about North Korea’s evolving missile threats.

Last October, Japanese authorities issued a similar evacuation order when a North Korean intermediate-range missile flew over Japan in a launch that demonstrated the potential to reach the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. At the time, Japanese authorities alerted residents in its northeastern regions to seek shelter and halted trains, although no damages were reported before the weapon landed in the Pacific.

Thursday’s launch came days after its leader Kim Jong Un vowed to enhance his nuclear arsenal in more “practical and offensive” ways.

North Korea has launched about 100 missiles this year and in 2022, many of them nuclear-capable weapons that place the U.S. mainland, South Korea and Japan within striking distance.


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