North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile Prompting Emergency Alert from Japan
On Thursday, North Korea fired what appeared to be a ballistic missile, prompting Japan to issue an emergency alert warning its citizens to take shelter in case it landed near the northern island of Hokkaido. The missile was launched from near Pyongyang and flew for about 1,000km in the direction of the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan before falling into the sea. The launch came two days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for the strengthening of the country’s war deterrence in a “more practical and offensive manner” to counter US “aggression”. The missile launch also coincided with North Korea’s failure to answer calls to a set of cross-border inter-Korean hotlines, sparking fears of possible provocations.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that North Korea fired one intermediate-range or longer ballistic missile from near Pyongyang into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula at around 7:23 a.m. local time on Thursday. South Korean broadcaster YTN, citing a military official, said the test launch could have involved a new type of weapon displayed at recent North Korean military parades and that it was not ruling out the possibility that the projectile was a solid-fuel missile. The utilization of solid fuel technology renders rockets more convenient to transport and quicker to launch in comparison to those fueled by liquids.
Following the North Korean launch, the Japanese government advised citizens in Hokkaido to seek refuge. However, the Japanese Coast Guard later confirmed that the missile was no longer a threat to Hokkaido or the surrounding areas. The government later updated its alert to say the missile had “no possibility of landing in Hokkaido or near Hokkaido after confirming information.” In a statement, the White House expressed a strong condemnation towards North Korea for its long-range ballistic missile test.
The missile launch came after North Korea had issued a fresh warning to the US over joint military drills and cut communications links with South Korea used to reduce tensions on their heavily armed border. North Korea has carried out a record number of weapons tests in 2022 and has kept up the pace of development this year, framing its activity as a response to joint military drills between the US and South Korea that it claims are a rehearsal for an invasion. The drills conducted by Washington and Seoul are deemed to be defensive in nature, and were organized in response to the increasing nuclear and missile threats posed by North Korea.
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