North Korea sends missile over Japan
Flight path soars over Japan, which condemns actions.
North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, fired a missile today that flew over Japan, triggering anger in Seoul and Tokyo.
North Korea fired SEOUL — another missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido this morning, just a day after Pyongyang threatened that the four main Japanese islands would “be sunken into the sea” by its nuclear bomb.
It was the second time in less than three weeks that North Korea had launched a missile over Japan, and immediately sparked angry reactions in Tokyo and Seoul.
The missile was launched from the Sunan airfield just north of Pyongyang about 6:30 a.m. local time, South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said. It flew for 17 minutes, passing over Hokkaido and landing some 1,200 to the east in the Pacific Ocean.
The launch immediately triggered emergency alerts in Japan, with text messages and loudspeakers telling residents under the missile’s potential flight path to seek shelter.
The Japanese government warned people not to approach any debris or other suspicious-looking material. North Korean missiles sometimes break up in flight.
The Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, condemned the launch and reiterated a pledge that Japan would “not tolerate” North Korea’s actions.
Details were still emerging, but the launch appeared very similar to the last prior one on Aug. 29.
North Korea fired a Hwasong-12 — an intermediate-range ballistic missile technically capable of flying 3,000 miles, enough to reach the U.S. territory of Guam — from the Sunan airfield.
It flew to the east, over Hokkaido, rather than on a southward path toward Guam.
But analysts said that, after testing its missiles by firing them straight up and having them crash into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, North Korea was apparently testing the missile’s flight on a normal trajectory.
That launch, followed by a huge nuclear test, triggered new sanctions by the United Nations Security Council. On Thursday, a North Korean state agency responded with an alarming threat to Japan.
“The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by [our] nuclear bomb,” the Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee said in a statement carried by the official news agency.
Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan’s four main islands.
“Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the committee said.
Following Friday’s launch, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, convened an emergency meeting of his national security council.
The North’s missile program had been known more for failures than successes until it made a rush of advances this year. Analysts say a powerful new engine lies behind a string of successful tests, and as a result, the North has increased the frequency and potency of its experiments.
North Korea has launched more than 80 missiles since Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011. The nuclear and missile tests have strained the region’s nerves and challenged President Donald Trump’s administration to project a cohesive policy on the conflict.
Last month, Trump threatened that North Korea “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if the country continued its provocations. But it has pursued a strategy of pressuring China, the North’s chief trading partner, to apply economic pressure — in particular by cutting off the Kim regime’s oil imports. China and Russia, however, have contended that doing so would destabilize the country and potentially prompt a reaction that would negate any opportunity to reach a diplomatic solution.