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ConflictsNorth Korea

North Korean missile prompts Japan to issue Hokkaido warning

April 13, 2023

North Korea has fired a projectile, believed to be ballistic missile, into the East Sea. Japan ordered residents of Hokkaido to take shelter, but lifted the warning a short time later.

Missile test in North Korea
North Korea launched what it said was an intercontinental ballistic missile in MarchImage: KCNA/AP Photo/picture alliance

North Korea fired a missile on Thursday, South Korea and Japan said, prompting a warning for some Japanese residents to take cover.

The Japanese government warned people on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido to "evacuate immediately" and seek shelter in a building or underground. It said the missile was expected to land at around 8:00 am local time (2300 GMT).

Later, the evacuation alert was lifted when the missile crashed into the sea. According to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, the North Korean missile did not fall in Japanese territory.

The United States accused Pyongyang of inflaming regional tensions and said it "strongly condemns" what it described as the test of a "long-range ballistic missile."

"The President (Joe Biden) and his national security team are assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies," National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement, adding the launch was "a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and ... risks destabilizing the security situation in the region."

Escalation in the region

The suspected ballistic missile was launched off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The launch comes two days after North Korean state media KCNA reported that leader Kim Jong Un had called for strengthening the country's war deterrence in a "more practical and offensive" manner to counter what it called moves of aggression by the United States.

North Korea has criticized the recent series of joint military exercises between the US and South Korea as escalating tensions. In response, it has stepped up its weapons tests in recent months.

dh/nm (Reuters, AFP)