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Japan lodges ‘stern protest’ after Pyongyang launched weapon from east coast – its 12th launch this year.
North Korea has fired a suspected long-range ballistic missile off its eastern coast, according to officials in neighbouring South Korea and Japan, with Tokyo lodging a “stern protest” over the launch.
“North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Wednesday morning, without going into further detail.
Japan’s coast guard and defence ministry also detected the weapon, with the coast guard saying it flew for about 550km (340 miles) and landed just outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone at about 11.13am (02:13 GMT)
North Korea has stepped up its sabre-rattling this week, with Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, condemning a United States plan to deploy a nuclear missile submarine to waters near the Korean peninsula and threatening to shoot down spy planes after claiming US reconnaissance planes recently violated its air space.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said the comments were “part of a North Korean pattern of inflating external threats to rally domestic support and justify weapons tests.
“Pyongyang also times its shows of force to disrupt what it perceives as diplomatic coordination against it, in this case, South Korea and Japan’s leaders meeting during the NATO summit,” he said in an email.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno described the launch as a “serious provocation” in breach of United Nations sanctions and said a “stern protest” had been lodged through diplomatic channels in Beijing.
Pyongyang has carried out successive weapons tests as it looks to modernise its military. This year, it launched its first-ever solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and tried to put its first military spy satellite into orbit. That effort was a failure but officials have promised to try again.
North Korea is banned from using ballistic missile technology, including for satellite launches, under UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons programmes.