In an escalating test of weapons designed to strike regional U.S. allies., North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, leading the country to issue evacuation notices and suspend trains.
The Japanese prime minister’s office said at least one missile fired from North Korea flew over Japan and was believed to have landed in the Pacific Ocean, and authorities alerted residents in northeastern regions to evacuate to shelters, in the first “J-alert” alert since 2017 when North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 missile over Japan in its previous provocative run of weapons tests.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that “the firing, which followed a recent series of launches by North Korea, is a reckless act and I strongly condemn it.” He said he would convene the National Security Council to discuss the situation.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said no damage was immediately reported from the missile that flew 22 minutes and landed in waters outside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The launch is the fifth round of weapons tests by North Korea in the past 10 days in what was seen as an apparent response to bilateral military drills between South Korea and the United States and other training among the allies including Japan last week.