Pyongyang’s fifth test in 10 days came after South Korea and the United States held military drills.
North Korea fired a medium-range ballistic missile at Japan, 5th debut in 10 daysamid expectations that the country is preparing to test its first nuclear weapon in five years.
The missile, detected by the Japanese coast guard and the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a warning alert in northern Japan with residents advised to take shelter. Train services in the northern regions of the country have been suspended.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida condemned what he called a “barbaric” act.
TV Asahi, citing unnamed government sources, said North Korea may have fired an intercontinental ballistic missile and it fell into the sea about 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) from Japan.
There are no further details on the weapon.
Pyongyang has conducted a series of launches around military exercises organized by the United States and South Korea, which it sees as a rehearsal for aggression. The US and South Korea, which held their own advanced weapons demonstrations on Saturday to mark their Armed Forces Day, said the drills were defensive in nature.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said that firing a weapon at Japan represented a “significant escalation” of recent provocations.
“Diplomacy is not dead yet, but neither can the negotiations continue,” Easley said in emailed comments. “Pyongyang is still in a stage of testing and provocation and will likely have to wait until after the Chinese Communist Party Congress in mid-October to conduct an even more significant test.”
North Korea has carried out some record weapons tests this year and analysts see the acceleration of testing as an attempt to enhance the capabilities of ballistic weapons, which the country is banned from testing under UN sanctions.
South Korean officials have suggested North Korea could conduct a nuclear test after the end of the congress in China and before the US holds midterm elections in November. Last time in September 2017.