North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday in its first launch of a such missile in eight months, according to South Korea's military, prompting a warning for residents to take cover and a temporary suspension of train operations in northern parts of the country.
The South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected an IRBM launch from Mupyong-ri in the northern province of Jagang.
At about 7.29 a.m. local time Japanese government warned citizens to take cover as the missile appeared to have flown over and past its territory before falling into the Pacific Ocean, national broadcaster NHK said.
At around 8 am local time the office of the Japanese prime minister tweeted that "a bullet that appears to be a North Korean ballistic missile probably flew over Japan."
It was the first North Korean missile to follow such a trajectory since 2017, and Tokyo said its 4,600 km that is 2,850 miles range may have been the longest distance travelled for a North Korean test flight, which are more often “lofted” higher into space to avoid flying over neighbouring countries.
Tokyo said it took no steps to shoot the missile down. Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan wouldn’t rule out any options, including counterattack capabilities, as it looks to strengthen its defences in the face of repeated missile launches from North Korea. South Korea also said it would boost its military and increase allied cooperation.
A Threat To Guam
Given its flight distance, Tuesday's missile appears to have been fired at a standard angle - in contrast to the North's earlier launch of an IRBM on a lofted trajectory, observers said.
A former South Korea Navy officer who now teaches at Kyungnam University Kim Dong-yup stated that North Korea may have fired the Hwasong-12 IRBM, which Pyongyang unveiled in 2017 as part of its threatened plan to strike Guam.
The IRBM puts the U.S. territory of Guam within range in a reminder that it poses threats far beyond the peninsula.