N. Korea fires missile into Japan's EEZ after G-7 vow to stem provocations

North Korea fired a ballistic missile Monday that is believed to have fallen into Japan's exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, in the latest in a series of weapons tests in defiance of the international community, the Japanese government said. Pyongyang's missile launch comes days after the Group of Seven leaders agreed in their weekend summit meeting in Italy to press the country to abandon its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile development, prompting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to say Japan will take "concrete action" with the United States. "We cannot tolerate North Korea's repeated provocations in defiance of warnings from the international community," Abe told reporters in his office. Noting that North Korea is a "matter of high priority in the international community as agreed in the G-7 meeting," Abe expressed readiness to closely cooperate with the United States, South Korea and others to curb the country's provocations. It would be the fourth time, if confirmed, that a North Korean ballistic missile has fallen into Japan's EEZ. During their phone conversation later in the day, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confirmed that Tokyo and Washington will work in tandem to "strengthen pressure" on North Korea. "We agreed that we will take concrete action to bolster our defense system and its ability in an attempt to prevent threats from North Korea," Kishida told reporters. They have also shared the view that cooperation among Japan, the United States and South Korea is important, while agreeing to urge China and Russia to play greater roles in tackling issues involving Pyongyang, he added. China and Russia have sought the resumption of talks between North Korea and five other countries aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, but Kishida remains cautious about the move, saying, "Dialogue for dialogue's sake is meaningless." Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference the launch is a "clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions" prohibiting North Korea from such activities. The missile was fired from North Korea's eastern coastal city of Wonsan around 5:40 a.m. and flew around 400 kilometers, the top government spokesman said, adding there were no reports of damage to aircraft or ships in the area.   The South Korean military, meanwhile, said the missile flew around 450 km and is believed to be either a Scud short-range missile or a Scud-ER intermediate range missile capable of striking western Japan. That was the view in Japan, too, where Japan's Defense Minister Tomomi Inada said the missile is thought to be a Scud-type projectile and reached an altitude of 100 km, adding that there was nothing exceptional about its trajectory The Japanese government held a National Security Council meeting following the missile launch and Abe called for gathering information on the missile launch, steps to ensure the safety of airplanes and vessels, and keeping alert for any unexpected contingencies, Suga said. Suga said the government will discuss how to deal with North Korea with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi, the country's top diplomat, who arrived in Japan on Monday. China has a significant influence over North Korea, whose economy heavily depends on China's. Kishida said he will meet with Yang, who occupies a post equivalent to a deputy prime minister and superior to foreign minister, on Tuesday. The White House said President Donald Trump has been briefed on the issue. The U.S. Pacific Command said the missile flew for about 6 minutes and fell into the Sea of Japan. Despite international criticism, North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles. On May 21, it also launched the Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile, also known as the KN-15, which flew about 500 km before falling into waters off its east coast. The latest missile launch raised safety concerns among locals including fishermen along the Sea of Japan coast. In the island city of Sado in Niigata Prefecture, Osamu Ito, a city government official in charge of disaster prevention, said he came to his office earlier than usual, after watching a TV news report on the launch, adding the local government is "struggling to collect information." The Japan Coast Guard issued a navigation warning to alert ships operating in the waters in the wake of the missile launch.  

22 hours ago | KYODO NEWS