North Korea has fired a possible ballistic missile off its east coast just one week after its leader, Kim Jong-un, vowed to bolster North Korea’s military capabilities amid instability on the Korean Peninsula, authorities in Japan and South Korea say.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense said in a statement that a possible ballistic missile was fired from North Korea at around 8:07 a.m. on Jan. 5. The projectile flew about 500 kilometers (about 310 miles) and landed outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
No damage has been reported as a result of the incident thus far, according to the ministry.
Following the report, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has ordered that the ministry collect and analyze any information related to the incident and that any updates be communicated to the public. Kishida also instructed authorities to confirm the safety of ships and planes in the area where the projectile had reportedly landed.
“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” he told reporters.
Kishida said other details about the North Korean launch weren’t immediately available, including where the suspected missile landed and whether there had been any damage.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff stated that North Korea launched the missile eastward, noting that it’s currently analyzing the launch with U.S. intelligence authorities.
The missile launch came after Kim Jong-un pledged in his New Year’s speech to bolster North Korea’s military capabilities and develop “high-tech weapon systems” in response to the “destabilizing situation” on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea has been pushing for a declaration to end the 1950 to 1953 Korean War, which ended in an armistice, as a way to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula. However, North Korea insists that any formal treaty to end the war must first be preceded by an end to U.S. “hostilities” toward Pyongyang.
The United States has reiterated that it holds “no hostile intent” toward Pyongyang and has expressed a willingness to meet with North Korea for negotiations without preconditions.
While Kim spoke of “principled issues and some tactical directions to be maintained in inter-Korean relations and foreign affairs,” the North Korean leader made no mention of his country’s dealings with the United States and South Korea in his speech.
Despite North Korea’s unresponsiveness to calls for the end-of-war declaration, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said he would continue pursuing an “irreversible path to peace” with North Korea until the end of his five-year term in May.
Moon has pledged to “institutionalize sustainable peace” with North Korea, emphasizing that the “international community will respond” if both sides resume dialogue and cooperation.
“The government will pursue normalization of inter-Korean relations and an irreversible path to peace until the end. I hope efforts for dialogue will continue in the next administration, too,” Moon said in his final New Year’s address.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.