Justin McCurry in Tokyo — Guardian.co.uk March 6, 2017
Japan has lodged a protest and warned of grave threats to its security after North Korea launched four ballistic missiles on Monday morning, three of which fell into Japanese waters.
The exact type of missile fired was not immediately clear, but South Korea’s military said it was unlikely that they were intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which can reach the US. An unnamed US official told Reuters that the US saw no indications that an ICBM had been tested.
According to the military in Seoul, the North fired the unidentified projectiles shortly after 7.30am local time (2230 GMT Sunday) from the Tongchang-ri region near its border with China. The area is home to the North’s Seohae satellite station, where it has conducted banned long-range rocket launches in recent years.
“The latest launches of ballistic missiles clearly demonstrate evidence of a new threat from North Korea,” the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said. “The launches are clearly in violation of [UN] security council resolutions. It is an extremely dangerous action.”
The latest missiles flew about 620 miles (1,000km) before landing in the Sea of Japan – known as the East Sea in Korea – with three landing in Japan’s “exclusive economic zone”. A fourth splashed down just outside the EEZ.
Three of the missiles landed 186-217 miles (300-350km) from the Oga peninsula in Japan’s Akita prefecture, according to the country’s defence minister, Tomomi Inada.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, called the latest missile launch a “grave threat to national security” but added that there were no reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area.
“South Korea and the United States are conducting a close-up analysis, regarding further information,” South Korea’s military said in a statement.
The country’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, convened a national security meeting, the presidential office said. Seoul said its armed forces were “closely monitoring military activity north of the countries’ heavily armed border for any signs of further provocations.