SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years on Tuesday, prompting Tokyo to activate its missile alert system and issue a rare warning for people to take shelter.
The latest launch — which the US branded “reckless and dangerous” — comes in a record year of sanctions-busting weapons tests by North Korea, which recently revised its laws to declare itself an “irreversible” nuclear power.
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida both condemned the test firing, the White House said after a call between the two.
Biden also reiterated the US’ “ironclad commitment to Japan’s defence,” the statement said.
South Korea said the intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) flew some 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) — possibly a new distance record for North Korean tests, which are usually conducted on a lofted trajectory to avoid flying over neighbouring countries.
Later on Tuesday, South Korean and US fighter jets carried out a “precision bombing drill” in response, Seoul’s military said, with South Korean F-15Ks dropping joint direct attack munitions (JDAMs) at a target in the Yellow Sea.
On the same day, eight Japanese and four US fighter jets carried out a joint drill in airspace west of the country’s Kyushu region, according to Japan’s Joint Staff.
Japanese Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missile could have been a Hwasong-12.
Japan activated its missile warning system and urged people in two northern regions of the country to take shelter early Tuesday.
Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2022