TOKYO – North Korea has fired a missile that flew over northern Japan before crashing into the sea.
No effort was made by the Japanese to shoot down the missile, which was launched early in the morning local time, triggering safety warnings.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile an “unprecedented” threat.
There has a been a wave of North Korean missile tests recently but firing projectiles over Japan is rare.
On Friday and Saturday North Korea fired three short-range missiles into the sea off its eastern coast.
As this latest missile flew towards Japan warning alarms went off across northern Japan, but public broadcaster NHK said there was no sign of any damage.
Mr Abe called the launch an “outrageous act” and an “unprecedented, serious and grave threat [that] greatly damages regional peace and security”.
He said his government was doing its utmost to protect people’s lives.
Given the missile’s flight path the test is being seen as an escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The South Korean military says that the missile was fired eastward from near the north’s capital Pyongyang early on Tuesday.
It passed through the sky over Japan and fell into the North Pacific Ocean, it said, covering a distance of more than 2,700km (1,678 miles) at a maximum altitude of around 550km (342 miles).
The missile flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido before breaking into three pieces and falling into the water, according to local media.
Earlier this month North Korea threatened to fire missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, while US President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the US. – BBC