North Korea fires ballistic missile at Japan

New York, Tokyo and Seoul — Japan’s Defense Ministry said North Korea fired a ballistic missile at Japan early on Tuesday.

South Korea and the United States conducted a joint strike package flight and precision bombing exercise in response to the ballistic missile test, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told ABC News.

The Japanese government issued a “J-alert” through its emergency alert system, advising residents to take cover in solid buildings or underground.

A government spokesman said Japan had not attempted to shoot down the missile because they did not believe it would pose a threat.

A U.S. defense official confirmed the launch to ABC News.

Photo: TV broadcasts J-Alert, or National Early Warning System, to Japanese residents in Tokyo, Oct. 10.  April 4, 2022, Tokyo.

Television broadcasts J-Alert, or National Early Warning System, to Japanese residents in Tokyo, October. April 4, 2022, Tokyo. South Korea said North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters. It says “missile passed. Missile passed.”

Eugene Xingzi/Associated Press

Residents in Japan’s northernmost Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures are advised to remain vigilant and notify police or fire officials if debris is found.

Tuesday’s launch marked the seventh time a North Korean missile flew over Japan. The last time was in August 2017. Since January, North Korea has launched 21 ballistic missiles and two cruise missiles, a record for the number of launches in a single year. Tuesday’s launch was the country’s fifth missile test in more than a week.

“We ask people to resume their lives peacefully as usual,” Hirokazu Matsuno, the chief spokesman of the Japanese government, told reporters at a news conference.

Officials also warned people not to touch or pick up any debris.

The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida began to convene members to analyze the situation.

Photo: A TV screen shows a news program with document images reporting North Korea's missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, on Oct. 10.  January 1, 2022.

On October 10, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, a TV screen played a news program with document images reporting North Korea’s missile launch. January 1, 2022.

Li Jinman/Associated Press, file

A government spokesman said no reports of damage had been received and debris was being searched for.Officials are gathering information and will work with South Korea and the U.S.

“North Korea’s actions threaten Japan and the international community,” the spokesman said. “Such a missile launch violates UN resolutions. Japan will launch a strong protest against North Korea accordingly. All new information will be shared in a timely manner.”

“The United States strongly condemns the DPRK’s dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan,” the White House said in a statement in Washington, D.C., late Monday.

National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan spoke with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts late Monday, according to White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrian Watson.

“During both calls, the National Security Adviser consulted on an appropriate and robust coalition and international response,” Watson said. “National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan reinforced America’s strong commitment to defending Japan and South Korea. [South Korea]. “

Observers say regional players may not have many cards on hand to contain North Korea. Jeff Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University in Japan, told ABC News that the missile launch was a very provocative act because it occurred during multiple missile tests this year.

“There is no good choice [South Korean President] Yoon, Kishida, Biden will take control of Kim Jong-un,” Kingston said. “Sanctions and condemnation have failed to stop him, and there are no good military options. “

North Korea recently passed a law declaring its readiness to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Analysts have warned that the country may seek to reaffirm its nuclear-weapon state status and prepare for a seventh nuclear test.

Jaechun Kim, a professor of international relations at Sogang University in South Korea, said the United States, South Korea and Japan should mobilize like-minded countries to cooperate on non-United Nations sanctions to thwart North Korean provocations.

“There must be a united front to impose sanctions on North Korea, as they did with Russia,” Kim said. “This is the only way to punish North Korea for bad behavior.”

Kim also told ABC News that China, North Korea’s most powerful ally, may have little to no say in North Korea’s actions.

“North Korea is just doing what it needs to do now. So, with or without China’s support, there’s a good chance North Korea will conduct a seventh nuclear test,” Kim said. “It will be interesting to see if Xi Jinping will support Kim Jong Un.”

ABC News’ Joohee Cho, Guy Davies and Matt Seyler contributed to this report.

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