North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Tuesday that reportedly passed over Japan at around 7.29 a.m. local time, according to Japanese officials. South Korea also reported observing North Korea firing a missile.
The Japanese government issued alerts warning citizens in the Hokkaido and Aomori prefectures to take shelter in sturdy buildings or underground amid reports of a suspected missile launch. Japanese citizens were warned to monitor the news for updates.
The American Citizen Services section of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, which provides information to U.S. citizens in Japan, shared the alert on Twitter.
"The Japanese government is warning that North Korea appears to have launched at least one ballistic missile. There's a possibility it's heading toward Japan. The government is urging everyone in the country to monitor news media," it said.
The Japanese Coast Guard said in an update at 7:46 a.m. that, according to the Ministry of Defense, "a ballistic missile may have already fallen'' into the Pacific Ocean.
The latest launch was Pyongyang's fifth launch in a week, with the United States and South Korea responding with military drills in the region, including staged trilateral anti-submarine exercises last week with Japanese naval forces.
Japan PM Calls Launch 'Outrageous'Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida strongly condemned North Korea's actions, calling them "outrageous" and a threat to the security of Japan and the international community.
At a press conference following the incident, Kishida said that Japanese officials are gathering to draft a response to the incident once authorities have all the facts of the launch, in cooperation with allies.
Kishida said he would convene a meeting of the country's National Security Council immediately following the press conference.
"Based on the analysis, we will decide our actions going forward," Kishida said.
Japanese officials believe the missile was launched at 7.22 a.m. local time. The Japanese government is able to issue nationwide warnings to local officials via its satellite warning system.
Preparing For Possible Nuclear TestSouth Korean lawmakers believe North Korea may be preparing for another nuclear test either on Oct. 16 or 17, ahead of the November U.S. midterm elections and at the time of the Chinese regime's party congress, which is scheduled for Oct. 16.
After a briefing by the National Intelligence Service, South Korean lawmaker Youn Kun-young said the agency can't calculate the probability of another test "but assumed that North Korea would make a comprehensive decision based on international relations and its COVID situation."
The Japanese government noted Tuesday's missile launch was the 22nd North Korean provocation this year.
It comes days after the country fired two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM) into waters off its east coast on Oct. 1, which was the fourth round of ballistic missile tests within a week.
North Korea also launched a series of SRBMs off its east coast before and after U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris's visit to South Korea and its Demilitarized Zone.
While there, Harris said the tests were "clearly a provocation" and said the United States views them as destabilizing.
On Sept. 29, hours after Harris wrapped up her trip to South Korea, North Korea launched two SRBMs off its east coast. The North also launched two SRBMs on Sept. 28 and one on Sept. 25.