North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

Japanese government tells residents to seek cover as missile passes over their heads and lands 3,000km off coast

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Korean Central News Agency via AP
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North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years on Tuesday, prompting a warning for residents to take cover and a temporary suspension of train travel in northern Japan.

The Japanese coastguard and South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff reported the missile test, which was launched over North Korea's east coast.

The Japanese government warned citizens to take cover as the missile appeared to have flown over and past its territory before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

It said it did not use any defence measures to destroy the missile.

"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," Japanese government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called North Korea's actions "barbaric", and said the government would continue to gather and analyse information.

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South Korea's joint chiefs said it appeared to have been an intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from North Korea's Jagang province.

North Korea has used that province to launch several recent tests, including missiles it claimed were "hypersonic."

TV Asahi, quoting a government source, said North Korea might have fired an intercontinental ballistic missile and it fell into the sea about 3,000 kilometres from Japan.

The latest launch was Pyongyang's fifth in 10 days, amid military muscle-flexing by the US and South Korea, which conducted anti-submarine exercises last week with Japanese naval forces.

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South Korea staged its own show of advanced weaponry on Saturday to mark its Armed Forces Day, including rocket launchers, ballistic missiles, main battle tanks, drones and F-35 fighters.

Pyongyang's test prompted East Japan Railway to suspend its train operations in the northern regions, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

The North has completed preparations for a nuclear test, which it might look to undertake some time between China's Communist Party Congress this month and US mid-term elections in November, South Korean politicians said last week.

Updated: October 04, 2022, 12:27 AM