April 22, 2024

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North Korea launches a missile, and Japan retracts its warning to take cover

North Korea launches a missile, and Japan retracts its warning to take cover

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) – North Korea fired a medium-range or longer-range ballistic missile on Thursday, South Korea and Japan said, alerting residents on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido to take cover.

Japanese authorities later retracted the warning, saying that the country’s J-Alert emergency alert system had mispredicted that the missile would land near the island.

South Korea’s military said the missile flew 1,000 km, calling it a “serious provocation”. No peak or maximum height of the missile was detected.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his government will hold a National Security Council meeting upon launch.

Japan’s defense minister, Yasukazu Hamada, said the missile appeared to have been fired eastward from a high angle. He said that the missile did not fall on Japanese territory, and that the Ministry of Defense is analyzing the launch for more details.

The Japanese Coast Guard said the projectile fell into the sea east of North Korea. Hamada said he could not confirm whether the missile flew over Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

There have been problems with J-Alert before.

In October, an evacuation warning was issued when a missile flew over Japan, but it came too late and most people didn’t know about it until the missile landed in the Pacific Ocean.

A month later, an error warning is issued saying that a missile has flown over Japan.

On Thursday, a student told Japanese broadcaster NHK that the alarm caused a temporary alarm at a train station in Hokkaido.

“There was a moment of panic on the train, but one of the station staff said to calm down, and people did,” said the man, whose name was not given by NHK.

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The launch came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called for strengthening the country’s war deterrence in a “more practical and offensive” way to confront Pyongyang, which the United States has described as aggressive steps.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile was launched at 7:23 am (2223 GMT Wednesday) from near Pyongyang.

The South Korean military said it was on high alert and was coordinating closely with the United States.

North Korea has criticized the recent series of joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea as an escalation of tensions, and has stepped up its weapons tests in recent months.

Additional reporting by Hyunsoo Yim, Jo Min Park, and Soo Hyang Choi in Seoul, and Chang Ran Kim in Tokyo; Written by Jerry Doyle. Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Neil Vollick, and William Mallard

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