North Korea fires suspected ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida talks about North Korea’s firing of a suspected ballistic missile, at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday morning.

North Korea fired what appears to be a ballistic missile at about 8:07 a.m. Wednesday from an inland area eastward, the Defense Ministry said. The suspected ballistic missile is estimated to have fallen into the Sea of Japan outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone and caused no harm to aircraft or vessels, the ministry said.

“If it had flown on a standard trajectory, it would have flown about 500 kilometers,” Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters.

The government was working with the United States and South Korea to determine the type of missile and the landing site.

Shortly after the missile was fired, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed relevant ministers and officials to do their utmost to collect and analyze intelligence in order to provide quick and appropriate information to the people.

It is the first launch of a missile by North Korea since it fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on Oct. 19.

“I find it extremely regrettable that from last year North Korea has continued to fire missiles,” Kishida said.

In Seoul, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff also said North Korea had fired a projectile that appears to be a ballistic missile from an inland area into the Sea of Japan.

The first launch of a projectile this year apparently came in line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s intention to continue nuclear and missile development.

Kim made a speech on this year’s action plans for the nation and the Workers’ Party of Korea during a plenary meeting of the party’s central committee at the end of last year.

“The increasingly unstable military environment on the Korean Peninsula and international politics have instigated calls to vigorously push forward with our national defense build-up plans without any delay,” Kim was quoted as saying.

The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden has shown a stance to maintain economic sanctions on North Korea. There is no prospect for negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang to resume. Under such circumstances, North Korea apparently intends to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities to strengthen its bargaining position.