Japan warned people to 'seek shelter immediately' after North Korea fired a missile toward the east following a spate of launch tests

North South Korea missile launch TV news
People at the Seoul Railway Station watching a TV broadcast about a North Korean missile launch on June 5.Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
  • Japan warned citizens to seek shelter as it tracked a ballistic missile fired from North Korea.

  • Officials later said the ballistic missile passed over the Pacific Ocean and fell into the water.

  • The launch was North Korea's fifth in the last 10 days.

The Japanese government sparked panic Tuesday morning after telling citizens to seek immediate shelter from a missile fired from North Korea that appears to have ultimately flown over Japan before falling into the Pacific Ocean.

 

The prime minister's official residence tweeted at 7:27 a.m. local time that a missile was believed to have been launched from North Korea toward the east. Officials warned residents in the Hokkaido and Aomori prefectures to seek safety inside a building.

Several additional government entities confirmed the threat: South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Japanese coast guard told Reuters that North Korea fire a ballistic missile off its east coast. A message on Japanese TV reiterated the warning, and the US Embassy in Tokyo relayed the alert.

Approximately 15 minutes after the initial warning, the prime minister's official residence issued a follow-up tweet saying the missile had passed. Officials said the missile was believed to have passed over the Pacific Ocean at about 7:29 a.m. local time.

The government urged people not to approach or touch any remnants and to contact the police or the fire department if they stumbled upon anything suspicious.

The launch — presumably a test — was North Korea's fifth fire in the past 10 days. The country has launched 23 ballistic and other missiles this year, but Tuesday's warnings were the first of their kind in five years.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno offered more information at a press conference, saying the North Korean missile flew over the Tohoku area in Japan and fell outside the country, according to tweets from the Washington Post reporter Michelle Ye Hee Lee.

Matsuno said that the missile could have a grave impact on the lives and livelihood of Japan's people, Lee tweeted, and that the government was assessing whether there was any fallen debris from the missile.

He added that North Korea's launches posed a challenge to the safety not only of Japan but of the entire international community, per Lee.

The South Korean military later released statistics on the missile, saying it flew some 4,500 kilometers, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

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