A North Korean ballistic missile was reportedly fired early Tuesday over northern Japan, which triggered all alarms before falling into the Pacific Ocean. It was the first such firing since 2017.
Japan's J-Alert warning system, which was developed by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency in 2007, was activated at dawn in several regions and prefectures nationwide. The mechanism is ignited in cases of earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and certain missile launches. Warnings are automatically sent to municipalities and then broadcast to residents through sirens, community radio stations, and smartphone messaging advising the population to seek shelter.
It was Pyongyang's fifth missile launch in the last 10 days, and a new step in the escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula as Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo and holding joint military maneuvers.
The missile, fired from the northern province of Jagang, reached a maximum altitude of 940 kilometers and traveled a total distance of 4,500 kilometers before falling into the Pacific Ocean, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
As per a South Korean Army assessment, it was possibly an ”intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) the exact type of projectile is still under evaluation. The IRBM rocket launch by North Korea took place in January when Pyongyang tested a Hwasong-12 projectile.
We consider this to be the missile that has traveled the longest distance to date,” said Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada.
Pyongyang also tested two other similar projectiles in August and September of 2017, which also flew over northern Japan. North Korea has been preparing for months to carry out a new detonation in Punggye-ri (northeast), as shown by satellites.
Experts believe Tuesday's test heralds an increase in atomic preparations ahead of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called Tuesday's event a barbaric act, while South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol warned Pyongyang of a resolute response if need be.
Tokyo has approved a record defense budget for the next fiscal year and plans to boost Japan's defense capabilities. Japan's Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi Tuesday held a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently in Colombia, in light of the serious and imminent threat.
Japan, South Korea, and the United States last week conducted joint maneuvers that included the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. The last time Reagan was deployed in the area was in 2017 when tensions in the region reached heights similar to those of this week, worsened by the crisis in Ukraine.
Japanese prefectures nationwide have conducted drills over the past few years to prepare for a possible North Korean ballistic missile launch landing nearby.
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