Japan urged residents to take shelter early Tuesday morning after North Korea fired a ballistic missile without warning over the country for the first time in five years, in a major and potentially dangerous escalation of recent weapons tests by the Kim Jong Un regime.
The launch, which prompted immediate backlash from Tokyo and Seoul, comes amid a spate of missile tests, with five launches in the past 10 days, and follows renewed military drills between the United States and its regional allies.
The intermediate-range missile was launched from Mupyong-ri near North Korea’s central border with China at around 7:23 a.m. local time, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). It flew about 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles) for 20 minutes at an estimated maximum altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) over Japan’s Tohoku region on the main island of Honshu before falling into the Pacific Ocean, some 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) from the country’s shore, Japanese officials said.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida strongly condemned the launch and called North Korea’s recent ballistic missile launches “outrageous” in comments to reporters at his official residence.
Tuesday’s launch is the country’s 23rd such missile test this year, including both ballistic and cruise missiles.
There were no reports of damage to aircraft or vessels near the missile trajectory, according to Japanese authorities, but the unannounced missile triggered a rare J-alert, a system designed to inform the public of emergencies and threats in Japan.