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Asia Minute: North Korea launches intermediate-range missile over Japan

South Korea Koreas Tensions North Korea missile launch 100422
Lee Jin-man/AP
A TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile launch is seen at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022. North Korea on Tuesday fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, forcing Japan to issue evacuation notices and suspend trains, as the North escalates tests of weapons designed to strike regional U.S. allies. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Japan is condemning North Korea’s latest launch of a ballistic missile. The Japanese government sent emergency alerts to residents in the northern part of the country because the missile traveled over Japanese territory.

The latest missile firing means North Korea has launched five rounds of missile tests in the past 10 days.

So far this year, it’s sent more than 20 missiles into regional waters.

It’s been a busy time lately for security forces around the Korean peninsula.

Last week, North Korea launched ballistic missiles twice while U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was in the region — and a third time shortly after she left.

On Friday, South Korean, Japanese and U.S. warships held their first trilateral naval exercises in five years.

USS Ronald Reagan south korea north korea tensions
South Korea Defense Ministry
In this photo provided by the South Korea Defense Ministry, the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, center, participates in a joint anti-submarine drill among South Korea, the United States and Japan in waters off South Korea's eastern coast in South Korea, Friday, Sept. 30, 2022. (South Korea Defense Ministry via AP)

They took place in waters off the east coast of Korea — what South Korea calls the East Sea and Japan calls the Sea of Japan.

Those drills were aimed at countering submarines because the threat of North Korea is not just in the missiles its launches, but also in their method of delivery — submarine launches are harder to track.

Two weeks ago, a U.S.-based think tank called “38 North” reported activity near a North Korean port suggesting preparations to launch a submarine.

The latest launch was an intermediate-range missile — other recent firings have been short-range missiles.

Before Tuesday’s launch, it had been more than five years since North Korea launched a missile that traveled through Japanese airspace.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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