North Korea fired a missile early on Tuesday that flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific waters off the northern region of Hokkaido, South Korea and Japan said, in a sharp escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The last North Korean projectile to fly over Japan was in 2009. The United States, Japan and South Korea considered that launch to have been a ballistic missile test while North Korea said it was a rocket carrying a communications satellite into orbit.
South Korea’s military said the latest missile was launched from the Sunan region near the North Korean capital Pyongyang just before 6 a.m. (2100 GMT Monday) and flew 2,700 km (1,678 miles), reaching the altitude of about 550 km.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the North Korean missile fell into the sea 1,180 km (733 miles) east of the Cape of Erimo on Hokkaido.
“It is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation,” Suga told a briefing, adding the government had protested the move in the strongest terms.
Suga said the launch was a clear violation of United Nations resolutions and Japan will work closely with the United States, South Korea and other concerned nations on a response, he said.
The Japanese government’s J-Alert warning system advised people in the area to take precautions.
The Pentagon confirmed the missile flew over Japan but did not pose a threat to North America and said it was gathering further information.
The launch marks a sharp escalation in tensions over Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, South Korea’s military and the Japanese government said, in a major escalation by Pyongyang amid tensions over its weapons ambitions.
The missile fell into the Pacific Ocean off Hokkaido, the Japanese government said.
No North Korean missile had overflown Japan for years, and the launch came after a strained period on the peninsula following Pyongyang’s testing of two intercontinental ballistic missiles last month that appeared to bring much of the US mainland within reach.
A meeting of the South’s National Security Council was called, the presidential office said.