clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

North Korea just launched another missile over Japan

It’s the second missile over Japan in just the past 17 days.

Japan Reacts To North's Latest Nuclear Test
A pedestrian walks past a monitor showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un in a news program reporting on North Korea's 6th nuclear test on September 3, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan.
Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

North Korea just fired its second missile over Japan in the past 17 days — just one day after saying, “Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”

"North Korea fired an unidentified missile eastward from the vicinity of Pyongyang this morning" around 6:30 am local time on Friday, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff. The missile appeared to travel for around 17 minutes and landed 1,200 east of the northern island of Hokkaido. It’s the furthest a North Korean tested missile has ever flown.

That distance would be enough to hit US military bases in Guam if the missiles were shot in that direction, but US Pacific Command says Guam was not threatened.

The projectile took off from Sunan, an airfield near North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, and flew over Hokkaido. Locals were told to take shelter. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters that the launch “sent millions of Japanese into duck-and-cover."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson noted the US could do more to weaken North Korea’s economy and called upon China and Russia to put pressure on Pyongyang. “These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” he said in a statement.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded forcefully: "We need to let North Korea realize that if they keep taking this path, they will have no bright future."

“These repeated provocations on the part of North Korea are impermissible and we protest in the strongest words,” Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s top government spokesperson, told reporters in a press conference after the launch.

This was North Korea’s first missile test since it detonated its most powerful nuclear bomb to date on September 3. Reuters reports South Korea launched a missile into the sea to coincide with the North Korean launch.

The day before this second test over Japan, a spokesperson for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee explicitly threatened to “sink” parts of Japan. “The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” the spokesperson said, referring to the country’s “self-reliance” ideology.

About two weeks ago, on August 28, North Korea flew a missile through Japanese airspace that landed 733 miles east of the country. That launch also went over Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.

“We'll make the utmost effort to protect the public,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters immediately after that launch.

It’s unclear how Japan — or United States — will respond. President Donald Trump was briefed on the launch by Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.