‘Unprecedented, grave and serious threat’: North Korea launches missile over Japan

Photo: STR/ AFP/ Getty Images.

North Korea launched a missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido at 5:58 a.m. local time, according to Japanese government officials.

Japan’s NHK News reported that the missile passed over Japan, warning people in northern Japan to take necessary precautions.

Although three missiles were fired, according to officials, it was not clear if all of them were headed toward the same trajectory.

Japanese officials also said that a missile “blew apart” into three pieces before splashing down into the Pacific Ocean.

South Korean military officials also confirmed reports of the missile launch and said that it flew for 1,677 miles at a maximum altitude of 341 miles. North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), North America’s foremost missile-warning system, determined that the missile did not pose a threat to North America.

During the tense moment, multiple prefectures in Japan were reportedly put on alert.

“We’ll take utmost efforts to protect the public,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said, shortly following the launch.

A subsequent report in The Japan Times said Abe called the launch “an unprecedented, grave and serious threat” that damaged the security of the region.

Abe discussed the incident with President Donald Trump in a phone call Monday, according to Reuters. Both agreed to increase pressure on North Korea following the missile launch. During the 40-minute call, Trump also reiterated that the US was “100% with Japan” and was supportive of Japan’s defence efforts, Abe said to reporters.

South Korean president Moon Jae-in ordered a military show of ‘overwhelming’ force in response to the North’s actions, Yonhap News reported. Four South Korean F-15K fighter jets were dispatched to drop eight bombs at a simulated target.

The latest launch was conducted days after Kim Jong Un’s regime fired what was believed to be three short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, and a month after an intercontinental ballistic missile flight test, the Associated Press reported.

Shinzo Abe
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe. Kim Hong-Ji-Pool/ Getty Images

The latest act of provocation from North Korea comes amid a spate of questionable moves, despite regional leaders, including Russia, denouncing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Following a Washington Post report that revealed North Korea’s surprising advancement in their nuclear-missile program, Trump said North Korea’s threats would be “met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

US-North Korean rhetoric grew hotter once North Korea threatened to strike the US territory of Guam, and after Trump doubled down on his initial statement by saying that it “wasn’t tough enough.”

During a campaign-style rally at Arizona last week, Trump asserted that North Korea was “starting to respect us.”

“I respect that fact very much. Respect that fact,” Trump said at the time. “And maybe, probably not, but maybe something positive can come about.”

South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently called for his county to prepare to “immediately switch to offensive operations” if the North makes a “provocation that crosses the line,” NK News reported.

Here’s an initial illustration of the missile’s trajectory: