Japan halts trains, sounds warning after North Korea launches missiles
Thursday's test was the latest in the series of recent weapon tests that have spurred tensions in the Korean peninsula
North Korea test-fired three missiles, including a suspected intercontinental ballistic missile, on Thursday, triggering evacuation warnings in Japan and alarm in South Korea.
Thursday's test was the latest in the series of recent weapon tests that have spurred tensions in the Korean peninsula.
Interestingly, it also comes just hours before US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is due to meet his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup at the Pentagon.
The previous day, Pyongyang tested 20 missiles, one of which landed in waters just 57 kilometres east of the mainland. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol had said it was "effectively a territorial invasion".
According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, it detected one presumed long-range missile fired from Pyongyang on Thursday.
This was followed by two presumed short-range ballistic missiles from the Kaechon area of South Pyongan province.
The first missile triggered an evacuation warning in the northern Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures of Japan following fears that the missiles would fly over the region.
Alerts were issued from the office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida through television, radio, mobile phones and public loudspeakers to residents instructing them to go inside firm buildings or underground. Bullet train services in those regions were also temporarily suspended.
However, there were no overflies, reported sources.
According to Japan's Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada, one of the missiles reached a maximum altitude of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) and travelled about 750 kilometres (460 miles) before his military lost track of the weapon.
He added that the missile disappeared from Japanese radars in skies above waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
The provocation by North Korea also follows its angry reactions to the large-scale joint military exercises involving the United States and South Korea named 'Vigilant Storm.'
The war games began on Monday and involves 240 aircraft and personnel from both countries, according to the US Defense Department.
Meanwhile, South Korean officials didn't give any additional details as to whether or not the missile tests were a success.
There were reports that the longer-range missile may have been fired on a high angle to avoid reaching the territory of the North's neighbours.
On whether the military believes the launch might have failed with the missile exploding in midair, Choi Yong Soo, a South Korean Navy captain who handles public affairs for Seoul's Defence Ministry, only said that the test was still being analysed.
South Korea had responded to Wednesday's missile test by launching its own missiles in the same border area after Pyongyang's missiles landed near the tense sea border between the countries, triggering air raid sirens and forcing residents on Ulleung island to evacuate.
North Korea had also threatened the US with powerful action if it does not halt joint military drills with South Korea.