Tension is rising with the US warning that Kim Jong-un is “begging for war” as North Korea threatens to “sink” Japan and reduce the US to “ashes and darkness”.
- Defiant Pyongyang launches missile over Japan in the face of intensifying sanctions
- Emergency sirens blared twice
- Local trains and subways briefly stopped
- The missile launch proved North Korea could target American military bases in Guam
The yen held steady against the dollar but US stock futures and Asian shares dipped after North Korea fired another missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, less than two weeks after its nuclear bomb test.
In a brazen retaliation of new UN sanctions, North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Hokkaido that flew about 3,700 kilometers before splashing down far out in the Pacific Ocean this morning – the second such launch in just over two weeks.
The Japanese government said the missile was launched at around 6.57am and fell into waters about 2,200 kilometers east of Hokkaido’s Cape Erimo at around 7.16 am.
At a news conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga claimed that the Self-Defense Forces detected and tracked the missile perfectly from the launch through the landing.”
“We didn’t intercept it because no damage to Japanese territory was expected,” Suga said.
He added that Japan had condemned the launch in the “strongest words possible.”
He told reporters earlier at the Prime Minister’s Office that the situation was similar to the one on Aug 29, when nuclear-armed North Korea fired an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile over Hokkaido, the first unannounced launch of a missile designed to carry a nuclear payload to fly over Japan.
The launch “has again made it clear that (United Nations) resolutions calling for sanctions should be completely implemented,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
“We need to have North Korea understand that they will have no bright future if they keep going this way,” Abe added.
In a statement, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson slammed the launch, saying Pyongyang’s “continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation.”
“North Korea’s provocative missile launch represents the second time the people of Japan, a treaty ally of the United States, have been directly threatened in recent weeks,” he said.
In a possible threat of even stronger measures to be taken at the UN, the top US diplomat urged “all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime”.
Tillerson also singled out China and Russia, which he said supplies the North with most of its oil and is its largest employer of forced labour, respectively.
“China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own,” Tillerson said.
While Japan did not attempt to intercept the missile, the launch did trigger the nation’s J-Alert warning system, which advised people in 11 prefectures and Hokkaido to take precautions.
Emergency sirens blared twice – once immediately after the launch and the second time just after the missile passed over their heads.
Local trains and subways briefly stopped for safety checks but there were no panicking or traffic jams.
The US military’s Pacific Command said in a statement that it had also detected and tracked the missile.
It said the missile did not pose a threat to Guam, some 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang, though experts said the launch proved the North could viably target the US territory, home to key American military bases.
“Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan, in the face of these threats, remains ironclad,” Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr Dave Benham said. “We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”
South Korea’s military, meanwhile, said the launch had originated from Sunan International Airport on the outskirts of Pyongyang, the Yonhap news agency reported.
In response to the firing, the South Korean military had fired a Hyunmoo-II missile into the Sea of Japan at a distance roughly equal to one that would hit Susan airport, the “origin of provocation,” Yonhap reported.
Related report: Aug 29, Another Missile Test from Defiant North Korea