North Korea launched its latest missile on Monday, part of a series of launches seemingly intended to express anger at a joint U.S.-South Korean missile drill currently in progress. The Monday launch reportedly passed over Japanese territory, in a significant escalation of North Korea’s provocative behavior.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday afternoon that the North Korean missile was detected flying toward Japan, and shortly afterward passed through Japanese airspace over the Tohoku region, which is in the northern part of the country.
“We’ll take utmost efforts to protect the public,” Abe promised after the launch was detected.
Tohoku residents were urged to take shelter in a “sturdy building or basement” as the missile approached.
South Korean tracking reports indicate the missile landed in the sea after passing over Japan.
The Japanese government stated on Monday afternoon that a total of three missiles were fired from North Korea. The one that passed through Japanese airspace broke into three pieces before crashing into the sea about a thousand kilometers off Hokkaido, according to Japanese media.
Update: The Department of Defense has issued the following statement:
We assess North Korea conducted a missile launch within the last 90 minutes. We can confirm that the missile launched by North Korea flew over Japan. We are still in the process of assessing this launch. North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America. We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD and will provide an update as soon as possible.