North Korea has fired a suspected ballistic missile, the Japanese Prime Minister’s Office announced Thursday.
“North Korea has launched a suspected ballistic missile. More updates to follow,” it said in an emergency alert posted on Twitter.
Earlier, the office tweeted that “a projectile that appears to be a North Korean ballistic missile has likely flown over Japan” but deleted it shortly after.
The Prime Minister’s Office also issued a series of instructions following the missile launch, calling on the authorities to “dedicate maximum effort to gather and analyze information and provide the public speedy and adequate information, ensure the safety of aircraft, vessels and other assets and take all possible measures for precaution, including readiness for contingencies.”
South Korean news agency Yonhap confirmed North Korea’s launch of an “unspecified ballistic missile toward the East Sea,” citing the military.
The latest missile launch comes a day after the US Department of Defense said American forces had conducted separate military exercises with Japan and South Korea in response to the firing of a long-range ballistic missile by Pyongyang.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to protect the nation’s safety through a strong alliance with the US and trilateral cooperation with the US and Japan.
“I know the people must be worried, but our government will thoroughly take care of the people’s lives and safety through a strong South Korea-U.S. alliance and security cooperation between South Korea, the U.S. and Japan,” he told reporters, according to Yonhap.
Meanwhile, South Korea, Japan and some Western member countries of the UN condemned North Korea for its ballistic missile provocation.
The other signatories of the joint statement were Britain, France, Albania, Brazil, India, Ireland, Norway and the United Arab Emirates, Yonhap reported.
“(We) strongly condemn the DPRK’s long-range ballistic missile launch which overflew Japan on Oct. 4 and its seven other ballistic missile launches conducted since Sept. 25,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the UN, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
On Tuesday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said North Korea launched what appeared to be a ballistic missile which could fly in the direction of Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures in northern Japan and warned people to seek shelter.
The ministry later said the missile had already fallen.
It marked the first time that North Korea had fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese archipelago in five years.
Last Saturday, North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea.
North Korea’s escalation of tensions is thought to be in response to a joint military drill by South Korea, the US and Japan in the East Sea.
Tensions on the peninsula rose in 2020 when North Korea attacked and blew up the inter-Korean liaison office along the border.
Seoul had threatened a strong response if Pyongyang “further worsens the situation.”
However, tensions soared further last year when both Seoul and Pyongyang ramped up military drills to show off their might.