Seoul, 4 October 2022 (dpa/MIA) – North Korea launched a missile that flew over Japan on Tuesday, marking the latest in a series of tests by Pyongyang as tensions rise in the region.
South Korea‘s military said Pyongyang launched a medium-range ballistic missile that flew eastward over the Japanese archipelago, Yonhap news agency reported.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was the first North Korean launch of a medium-range missile in more than eight months and that it was launched from North Korea‘s Jagang province near the border with China.
It reached a distance of 4,500 kilometres and a maximum altitude of 970 kilometres, according to initial estimates.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called it a reckless provocation and urged measures be taken in response.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the launch “outrageous,” while chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said it was an imminent threat to the region and the global community.
It was the first time in nearly five years that a North Korean missile flew over Japan. It landed around 3,000 kilometres east of Japan in the Pacific Ocean, according to Japanese sources.
Tokyo’s Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said it was the furthest horizontal distance a North Korean missile has travelled.
The launch triggered a public missile alert that urged residents of the island of Hokkaido and Aomori Prefecture on Honshu island to seek shelter in their homes, Kyodo reported.
The latest launch comes after North Korea tested two ballistic missiles on Saturday. UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing any kind of ballistic missile.
Experts see Pyongyang’s recent increase in testing as a reaction to naval manoeuvres by South Korean and US forces.
The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier also took part in the four-day naval exercises. It was the first deployment of a US aircraft carrier to South Korea in nearly four years.
North Korea regularly accuses the US of preparing for an attack through its military manoeuvres with South Korea – something both countries deny.
The country is also reportedly preparing to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile and possibly to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017.
Its parliament passed a law on state nuclear policy in early September which provides for the use of nuclear weapons not only in the event of an attack by enemy forces, but also in the event of a threatened attack on the leadership in Pyongyang.
North Korea is subject to tough international sanctions because of its nuclear weapons program.