North Korea fired a long-range ballistic missile on Thursday that flew toward Japanese territory as well as two short-rage ballistic missiles, according to alerts in Japan, a day after the nuclear-armed North fired at least 23 missiles, including one that landed off South Korea's coast for the first time.
Despite an initial Japanese government warning that the missile had flown over the country, Tokyo later reversed course, saying it had, in fact, lost track of the first missile over the Sea of Japan.
“We detected a launch that had shown the potential to fly over Japan, and therefore triggered the J-Alert,” Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said in a news conference. “But, after checking the flight, we confirmed that it had not passed over Japan.”
“We detected a launch that had shown the potential to fly over Japan, and therefore triggered the J-Alert. But, after checking the flight, we confirmed that it had not passed over Japan.”Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada
Japan's government warned residents of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures to seek shelter indoors after North Korea's missile launch, according to J-Alert Emergency Broadcasting System issued on Thursday.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected what is presumed to be an ICBM launch from the Suan area in Pyongyang at around 7:40 a.m. and the firing of two apparent short-range ballistic missiles from Kaechon in South Pyongan Province from around 8:39 a.m., according to the Yonhap news agency.
South Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman strongly condemned North Korea's series of missile launches as "deplorable and immoral" during a phone call on Thursday, Seoul's foreign ministry said.
The North is seen as demonstrating its firepower in protest against this week's combined air drills of South Korea and the United States.
Yonhap reported the missile went through stage separation, suggesting the missile has intermediate or long-range capabilities.
North Korea launched barrage of missiles
North Korea launched a barrage of missiles on Wednesday, including one that flew across its de facto maritime border with South Korea for the first time since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the news agency. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described it as "territorial encroachment" and Washington denounced it as being "reckless."
In response, South Korea's fighter jets fired three precision-guided missiles into waters north of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a de facto maritime inter-Korean border.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the North's firing of three short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from a site in or around the North's eastern coastal city of Wonsan at around 8:51 a.m.
One of them landed near South Korea's territorial waters, further raising tensions around the inter-Korean border. It marked the first time since the division of the two Koreas that the North sent a ballistic missile southward past the NLL.
Reuters contributed to this report.