Footage has emerged of the terrifying moment Japan rang a city-wide alarm after North Korea fired a ballistic missile overhead. Nuclear-armed North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile further than ever before on Tuesday, sending it soaring over Japan, for the first time in five years, and prompting a warning for residents there to take cover. It was the first North Korean missile to follow such a trajectory since 2017, and its estimated 4,600 km (2,850 mile) range was the longest travelled by a North Korean test missile, which are usually “lofted” high into space to avoid flying over neighbouring countries. Japanese train services were suspended and people sheltered in their homes as the bomb flew overhead.
In the footage, the alarm can be heard echoing eerily through the empty streets of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The area is located north of mainland Japan, more than 1,000 kilometres from Tokyo.
The missile passed over north Japan before falling into the Pacific Ocean.
In response to the test, US and South Korean warplanes practised bombing a target in the Yellow Sea.
Officials in Tokyo and Seoul said the missile flew 4,500 to 4,600 km (2,850 miles) to a maximum altitude of about 1,000 km.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it appeared to have been an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launched from North Korea’s Jagang Province. North Korea has launched several recent tests from there, including multiple missiles that it said were “hypersonic”.
The initial details suggested the missile may have been the Hwasong-12 IRBM, which North Korea unveiled in 2017 as part of what it said was a plan to strike US military bases in Guam, said Kim Dong-yup, a former South Korea Navy officer who teaches at Kyungnam University.
The Hwasong-12 was used in 2017 tests that flew over Japan, and Kim noted it was also test fired from Jagang in January. Flying a missile such a long distance allows North Korea’s scientists to test under more realistic conditions, said Ankit Panda of the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
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It was the latest in an escalating cycle of muscle flexing in the region. A US aircraft carrier made a port call in South Korea for the first time since 2018 on September 23, and North Korea has conducted five launches in the last 10 days.
The period has also seen joint drills by the United States, South Korea and Japan, and a visit to the region by US Vice President Kamala Harris, who stood at the fortified border between the Koreas and accused the North of undermining security.
North Korea accuses the United States and its allies of threatening it with exercises and defence buildups.
Recent tests have drawn relatively muted responses from Washington, which is focused on the war in Ukraine as well as other domestic and foreign crises, but the US military has stepped up displays of force in the region.
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