Japan urged residents early Thursday morning to take shelter after North Korea fired an intermediate range ballistic missile without warning over the country. This occurred for the first time in five year and comes amid several missile tests, with five launches in the past 10 days. It was a highly provocative act. The missile flew about 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles) for 20 minutes at an estimated maximum altitude of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) over Japan before falling into the Pacific Ocean. No damage has been reported so far. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida strongly condemned the launch. South Korea and the U.S also condemned the launch.
“North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community, and poses a serious challenge to the entire international community, including Japan,” Japanese government spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno said in a brief news conference. Kim Seung-kyum, chief of the JCS, and Paul LaCamera, the United States Forces Korea commander, held a meeting. “Pyongyang is still in the middle of a provocation and testing cycle and is likely waiting until after China’s mid-October Communist Party Congress to conduct an even more significant test,” said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. In May, Russia and China vetoed a US-drafted United Nations Security Council resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korea for its weapons testing. Missile launches like this go against the U.N. resolutions. North Korea recently passed a law declaring its readiness to launch preemptive nuclear strikes.