North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, with the projectile falling into waters outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

The missile was fired in a northeasterly direction from North Korea's west coast at 6:52 a.m., flying over 650 kilometers at a maximum altitude of about 100 km, according to the ministry. There were no reports of damage to aircraft or vessels.

The South Korean military said the North fired what appeared to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. It detected the missile launch near Pyongyang at 6:53 a.m.

File photo shows the Hwasong-17 new type intercontinental ballistic missile being displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 25, 2022. (KCNA/Kyodo)

The North might have test-fired a hypersonic missile designed to travel more than five times the speed of sound on irregular and low-altitude trajectories, making them difficult to shoot down or track by radar, South Korea's Defense Ministry said.

The Japanese government protested to North Korea, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said, adding that ballistic missile launches by the country are a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

"This is a matter that concerns not only the security of our country but also the safety of the region and the international community. It is absolutely unacceptable," Kishida told reporters at his office.

Japan will work with the United States and South Korea to ensure the safety and security of people in the region, he said.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command urged North Korea in a statement to "refrain from further unlawful and destabilizing acts," adding the U.S. commitments to the defense of South Korea and Japan "remain ironclad."

It is the first North Korean ballistic missile launch since March 18, when Tokyo detected the launches of three short-range missiles and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly oversaw firing drills involving "super-large multiple rocket launchers."

Following the latest launch, the South Korean Air Force, the U.S. Air Force and Japan's Air Self-Defense Force held a joint exercise, involving U.S. B-52 strategic bombers, according to the South Korean ministry.

The exercise, which was held over waters southeast of Jeju Island, was the first trilateral aerial drill this year, aimed to enhance deterrence and response capabilities against North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats, the ministry said in a press release.

The missile test also came after South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported Thursday the North is preparing to launch a second military satellite, citing South Korean military sources.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said the latest missile is not believed to have been intended to carry a satellite, although Tokyo is still analyzing the details.

Pyongyang has said it successfully launched its first spy satellite in November.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters at his office in Tokyo on April 2, 2024. (Kyodo)

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