NHK and all commercial broadcasters reported on North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile at around 7:10 a.m. today that landed in Japan’s EEZ. Prime Minister Abe condemned the launch by saying that it was a breach of UN Security Council resolutions and that Japan severely condemns and strongly criticizes the act by the DPRK. The GOJ held a National Security Council meeting in response to the launch. Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told the press that Japan has lodged a protest with the DPRK through its embassy in Beijing. The cabinet spokesman revised his earlier statement to the press that Pyongyang appeared to have fired two projectiles by saying that it launched one missile. Suga added that the missile may have split into two parts mid-flight before falling into the sea.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that Pyongyang apparently fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). It said the projectile was launched at 7:11 a.m. from the sea northeast of Wonsan in the eastern part of North Korea and flew about 450 km and reached an altitude of about 910 km. Suga told reporters that although the ROK military announced that the projectile was an SLBM, Japan is still analyzing the information. NTV said that if the missile was indeed an SLBM, this was the first launch of such a missile by North Korea in three years. TBS said that this was the first time in nearly two years for a North Korean missile to land in Japan’s EEZ.
NHK reported that Defense Minister Kono separately told the press this morning that the missile launch posed a serious threat to Japan’s security and violated UN Security Council resolutions. He added that Pyongyang’s advancement of missile technology is unacceptable for Japan and a serious challenge to the entire international community. Concerning the South Korean military’s announcement that the projectile was an SLBM, Kono said that Japan has not yet confirmed the type of projectile.
NHK and NTV reported that South Korea’s Defense Minister Jeong told the parliament this morning that South Korea has asked Japan to share information based on their GSOMIA intelligence-sharing accord. However, Suga simply said that Japan is appropriately coordinating with South Korea.
NHK speculated that the latest launch, which came a day after the DPRK’s announcement that it will hold working-level denuclearization talks with the United States on Oct. 5, may be an attempt to gauge Washington’s reaction.
Kyodo News and NHK WORLD reported that following the missile launch, MOFA Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau Director-General Takizaki spoke by phone with U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun. NHK said the two officials confirmed that the two countries will analyze intelligence on the launch and closely coordinate policies on the DPRK’s denuclearization.