North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile Thursday just hours before Japan and South Korea hold a summit in Tokyo to discuss issues including cooperation in responding to Pyongyang's threats.

The ICBM-class missile is believed to have fallen outside Japan's exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan at around 8:19 a.m. after flying for 70 minutes, the Defense Ministry said, with officials saying there were no reports of damage to aircraft or vessels.

It was North Korea's second missile test since South Korea and the United States began joint military exercises on Monday.

The missile flew for 70 minutes and traveled about 1,000 kilometers at a maximum altitude of over 6,000 km, before falling around 200 km west of Oshima-Oshima, a tiny island west of Hokkaido in northern Japan, according to the ministry.

Japan lodged a protest with North Korea and strongly condemned its first ICBM test since Feb. 18.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets the press at his office in Tokyo on March 16, 2023, after North Korea test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. (Kyodo)

"We must cooperate even more closely with our allies and like-minded countries" to ensure regional peace and stability, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Convening a National Security Council meeting before his departure for Tokyo, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said North Korea will have to pay the price for its reckless provocations. He also called for the strengthening of trilateral security cooperation between South Korea, Japan and the United States.

North Korea has denounced U.S.-South Korean military drills as a rehearsal for invasion.

The missile was fired on a steep vertical path or "lofted" trajectory from the Sunan area of Pyongyang, according to the South Korean military.

A South Korean military official said it resembled a "Hwasong-17" ICBM that North Korea test-fired last November, which could potentially travel over 15,000 km and reach the U.S. mainland if launched on a normal trajectory.

U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said the United States "strongly condemns" North Korea's latest ICBM test, which "needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region."

The United States will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of its homeland, Japan and South Korea, its key Asian allies, she said in a statement.

Later Thursday, Japan's Defense Ministry released footage showing a fireball-like object that is believed to be related to the North Korean missile, falling almost vertically toward the sea.

The ministry said an F-15 fighter jet of the Air Self-Defense Force filmed it over waters near where the missile is presumed to have splashed down.

Photo taken from a Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15 fighter jet on March 16, 2023, shows what is believed to be an ICBM-class missile launched by North Korea earlier in the day. (Photo courtesy of Japan's Defense Ministry)(Kyodo)

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