TOKYO/SEOUL, Nov 3 (Reuters) – North Korea fired several ballistic missiles on Thursday, including one that triggered an alert for residents of parts of central and northern Japan to take cover, the latest in a record year of nuclear missile testing. – Armed North.
Despite an initial warning from the government that a missile had flown over Japan, Tokyo later said that was incorrect.
The launches came a day after North Korea fired at least 23 missilesthe most in a single day, including one that first landed off the coast of South Korea.
Residents of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures in northern Japan were warned on Thursday to seek shelter indoors, according to the J-Alert emergency broadcast system.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government had lost track of the first missile over the Sea of Japan, prompting him to correct his earlier announcement that it had flown over Japan.
“We detected a launch that showed the potential to fly over Japan and therefore raised the J alert, but after verifying the flight we confirmed that it did not pass over Japan,” said Hamada to reporters.
The first missile flew at an altitude of about 2,000 kilometers and a range of 750 kilometers, he said. Such a flight pattern is called a “smoothed trajectory”, in which a missile is fired high into space to avoid flying over neighboring countries.
In brief comments to reporters minutes later, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, “North Korea’s repeated missile launches are an outrage and absolutely cannot be forgiven.
About half an hour after the launch was first reported, the Japanese Coast Guard said the missile had fallen.
Yonhap News Agency reported that the first missile had undergone stage separation, suggesting it could be a long-range weapon such as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said the long-range missile was launched from the North Korean capital Pyongyang.
About an hour after the first launch, the South Korean military and the Japanese coast guard reported a second and third launch from North Korea. South Korea said they were short-range missiles fired from Kaechon, north of Pyongyang.
After North Korean launches Wednesday, including a missile that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off the South Korean coast, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called the flights “territorial encroachment” and Washington denounced them as “carefree”.
South Korea issued rare air raid warnings and launched its own missiles in response after Wednesday’s barrage.
The launches came after Pyongyang called on the United States and South Korea to halt large-scale military exercises, saying “such recklessness and military provocations can no longer be tolerated”.
The allies conducted one of the largest aerial exercises ever, with hundreds of South Korean and American fighter jets, including F-35 fighters, staging simulated missions around the clock.
On Oct. 4, North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, prompting residents to take cover. It was the farthest North Korea had ever fired a missile.
Reporting by Kantoro Komiya in Tokyo and Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith in Seoul Editing by Chris Reese, Lincoln Feast and Gerry Doyle
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.