North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan, its latest act of aggression against a neighbour and key Western ally amid a escalating war of rhetoric with the United States. The missile launch will prove a stern test for both President Doanld Trump and the UN who have so far failed to get Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear ambitions.
The Japanese government said the missile, which was launched from Pyongyang’s Sunan district, had passed over Hokkaido and the country’s military did not try to shoot it down. The US military also said it had detected an intermediate-range ballistic missile, with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis saying the projectile “put millions of Japanese into duck and cover”. Japan issued a nationwide alert that urged residents in the country’s north to take shelter, and Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters he condemned the attack in the strongest possible terms.
The latest missile reportedly travelled 3,700 km, farther than the 2,700 km logged by the prior missile hurled over Japan and far enough to potentially strike the American territory of Guam. North Korea has issued a series of threats against Guam, which hosts a substantial American military presence, and Korean state media called the prior test of a missile over Japan a “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam”. In a statement, US Pacific Command said the latest missile “did not pose a threat to Guam”.