North Korea launched three ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan on Monday that likely fell outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone, prompting Tokyo to lodge a stern protest, the Japanese government said.

Pyongyang fired two missiles around 7:44 a.m. and one about 8:21 a.m., with each flying around 350 kilometers at a maximum altitude of about 50 km, the Defense Ministry said. The last ballistic missile launch by North Korea on Jan. 14 involved an intermediate-range missile.

"Japan strongly condemns the latest ballistic missile launches, which violate relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at a parliamentary session later in the day.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (standing) speaks during an upper house budget committee session in parliament on March 18, 2024. (Kyodo)

"North Korea's series of actions threaten the peace and security of our country, our region, and the international community and they are totally unacceptable," Kishida said.

Kishida said there were no reports of damage to Japanese vessels or aircraft following the launches.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Yukiya Hamamoto, deputy assistant minister of the ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, held phone talks with his U.S. and South Korean counterparts Jung Pak and Lee Jun Il to reaffirm the three countries' cooperation following the missile launches.

The South Korean military said that ballistic missiles were fired from near Pyongyang and they appeared to be short-range.

The launches came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Seoul for a multilateral conference hosted by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol on advancing democracy.

South Korea and the United States on Thursday wrapped up a large annual military exercise that was aimed at neutralizing Pyongyang's nuclear and missile threats using forces of the land, sea, air, cyber and space domains.

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