N. Korea launches suspected ICBM into Japan’s EEZ

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters in Bangkok following North Korea’s latest missile launch Friday.
The Yomiuri Shimbun

North Korea launched a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday that landed west of Hokkaido inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

According to the Defense Ministry, the missile was launched at around 10:14 a.m. from the vicinity of Pyongyang toward the Sea of Japan.

The missile flew for 69 minutes, marking the second-longest flight by a North Korean missile.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the missile fell about 200 kilometers west of the island of Oshima-Oshima, Hokkaido, at around 11:23 a.m.

According to the South Korean military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the launch was conducted in or around Sunan near Pyongyang.

The missile is estimated to have flown about 1,000 kilometers and reached a maximum altitude of about 6,000 kilometers.

Matsuno said the missile was likely launched on a lofted trajectory at higher altitudes than conventional missiles.

Friday’s launch was the 34th conducted by North Korea this year. It was the first time since March that a missile has fallen inside Japan’s EEZ.

No damage to ships or aircraft had been confirmed as of Friday afternoon.

“Depending on the weight of the warhead and other factors, the range of the missile could exceed 15,000 kilometers, meaning it could reach the U.S. mainland,” Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters on Friday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is currently in Bangkok, told reporters Friday that a strong protest had been lodged with North Korea.

“The missile is believed to have landed inside our country’s EEZ, west of Hokkaido,” Kishida said. “North Korea is repeating its provocations at an unprecedented frequency. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

He also expressed his intention to deal with the situation in cooperation with the United States and South Korea.

The National Security Council met at the Prime Minister’s Office Friday to discuss the government’s response.

It is thought that Pyongyang, which is also believed to have launched an ICBM on Nov. 3, is trying to improve the performance of its intercontinental missiles and show the United States it has the ability to launch a counterstrike that could reach the U.S. mainland.

North Korea also fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan on Thursday.

At a Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit meeting in Cambodia on Sunday, Washington reaffirmed the strengthening of extended deterrence to defend Japan and South Korea with nuclear forces and other means.

The recent series of missile launches by North Korea is likely a reaction to this development.

In a statement released on Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui stated North Korea’s military response would become even more fierce in the future.