North Korea fired an ICBM-class missile on Saturday that likely fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone off its northern territory in the first such test by Pyongyang in three months, the Japanese government said.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said the intercontinental ballistic missile was fired at around 5:21 p.m. from the outskirts of Pyongyang and fell into the Sea of Japan over 200 kilometers west of Hokkaido in the north of the country.
The missile flew for 66 minutes and traveled a distance of roughly 900 km on a lofted trajectory, reaching an altitude of up to 5,700 km. There were no reports of damage to aircraft or ships, the ministry said.
Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said that such a missile could potentially travel over 14,000 km and could reach anywhere on the U.S. mainland if launched on a normal trajectory.
"The launch this time around is an outrageous act that escalates provocations against the international community," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
Japan will continue to work closely with the United States and South Korea, the premier added. The Defense Ministry said that the Japanese government lodged a solemn protest against North Korea via the Japanese Embassy in Beijing.
South Korea's presidential National Security Council condemned the missile launch as "a serious violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a serious provocation that will increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in the region."
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command also condemned the action, calling on North Korea "to refrain from any further unlawful and destabilizing acts."
The projectile landed some 200 kilometers west of Oshima-Oshima, a tiny island 50 km west off the coast of Hokkaido. The Japanese government did not issue an order to destroy the missile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a hastily convened press conference.
The latest launch came a day after the North denounced a plan by the United States and South Korea to conduct tabletop exercises next Wednesday, as well as another round of joint military drills in March.
North Korea warned that both countries would face its "unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions," according to the nation's state-run media.
Pyongyang has also criticized the U.N. Security Council for not addressing the bilateral military demonstrations by Washington and Seoul.
Takehiro Funakoshi, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, reaffirmed close cooperation with allies through phone calls with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts Sung Kim and Kim Gunn over boosting deterrence and dealing with the threat posed by North Korea.
On Nov. 18 last year, Pyongyang test-fired a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile named "Hwasong-17", according to a media report by a state-run organization. According to the Japanese government, it is likely to have fallen in the country's EEZ.
The North also fired a ballistic missile on Jan. 1 which fell outside Japan's EEZ. Last year, the country launched various types of missiles on a record 37 occasions in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.