North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan; Attack Warnings Sounded; Launch an 'Unprecedented Threat'

North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan; Attack Warnings Sounded; Launch an 'Unprecedented Threat'

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his nation is facing a "serious and grave threat" after North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan this morning.

The missile was launched from near North Korean capital Pyongyang and flew about 2,700 kilometres, reaching an altitude of about 550km.

It flew over Japan's northernmost main island of Hokkaido before breaking into three pieces and falling into the sea about 1,180 km to the east of Japan.

Air raid warnings sounded in northern Japan as the missile approached, with people being warned to take shelter in basements.

North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under young leader Kim Jong-un, but firing projectiles over mainland Japan is rare.

"North Korea's reckless action is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation," Mr Abe told reporters as he entered his office for emergency meetings.

"We will make utmost efforts to firmly protect the lives of the people."

Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera said concerns over the country's national security had heightened, while chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called it an "unprecedented threat" and said the launch was a clear violation of United Nations resolutions.

The Japanese military did not attempt to shoot down the missile.

Australia ready to stand with Japan, Bishop says

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop called the launch a serious escalation in its provocative behaviour.

Ms Bishop said firing a missile over the territory of another nation was a "provocative, dangerous, destabilising and threatening act".

She emphasised Australia's focus on reducing tensions on the North Korean peninsula.

"North Korea is in breach of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and is acting illegally," Ms Bishop said.

"Australia and Japan are in close contact … We stand ready to support Japan at any time."

 

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