Seoul and Tokyo
North Korea fired at least one unidentified ballistic missile last Thursday local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, landing in waters east of the coast.
The launch triggered alarm in Japan’s northern Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures.
“Missile launched. Missile launched. Missile fired from North Korea. Please exit building or underground,” Japan’s Prime Minister’s Office tweeted.
That tweet several minutes later read: “Missile passed. Missile passed. The missile is believed to have entered the Pacific Ocean at 7:48 am. If you see anything suspicious, please stay away from it and contact the police or fire department immediately.
Japan’s prime minister’s office initially flew over the island, but after an analysis, Japan’s defense ministry said it did not.
The attack brings North Korea’s total number of missile launches this year to 30; These include ballistic and cruise missiles. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived hours before his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup was due to meet at the Pentagon.
Thursday’s withdrawal follows North Korea’s missile launch earlier in the week, when it issued an angry warning of a “precautionary storm” ahead of large-scale joint military exercises involving the US and South Korea. The maneuver, which began Monday, involved 240 aircraft and “thousands of service members” from both countries, the US Department of Defense said.
On Wednesday, North Korea fired at least 23 short-range missiles from the east and west of the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s defense ministry said.
It was the highest number of North Korean short-range missiles fired in a single day and included a ballistic missile that landed off the coast of South Korea for the first time since the Korean split, JCS reported.
That missile hit international waters 167 kilometers northwest of South Korea’s Uleung Island, about 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) – an inter-Korean maritime boundary that North Korea does not recognize.
Seoul responded at the time by launching three surface-to-air missiles from F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets, targeting the same distance north of the NLL.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Wednesday that North Korea was launching missiles at an “unprecedented frequency.”
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield has condemned North Korea’s unprecedented missile launch, telling CNN that the UN will press for the revision and improvement of such sanctions against China and Russia.