North Korea Sends Intermediate-range Missile over Japan

    04 October 2022

    North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile Tuesday that flew farther than any of the country's earlier attempts. It was the first time since 2017 that a North Korean missile flew over Japan. The Japanese government warned people to move to a place of safety.

    Officials in Tokyo and Seoul said the missile flew between 4,500 to 4,600 kilometers. It travelled as high as 1,000 kilometers above Earth. Missiles are flown high to avoid entering airspace of neighboring countries.

    South Korea's military said it appeared to have been an intermediate-range ballistic missile launched from North Korea's Jagang Province. North Korea has launched several recent tests from there.

    People walk in front of a screen showing a news report about North Korea firing a ballistic missile over Japan, in Tokyo, Japan October 4, 2022. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)
    People walk in front of a screen showing a news report about North Korea firing a ballistic missile over Japan, in Tokyo, Japan October 4, 2022. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)

    Japan warned its citizens to go into shelters. It also stopped some train services while the missile passed over its north toward the Pacific Ocean

    'Ironclad' committment

    American President Joe Biden spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the phone after the missile test Tuesday. Biden assured him that the United States has an "ironclad commitment" to Japan's defense.

    The two leaders jointly condemned the missile test, the Biden administration said in a statement. It also said the U.S. would work closely with South Korea and the international community to decide how to deal with the issue.

    The United States, South Korea and Japan are currently holding joint military exercises. American and South Korean warplanes test-bombed a target in the Yellow Sea following North Korea's missile flight.

    American Vice President Kamala Harris visited the area last week and spoke at the border between the Koreas. She said North Korea was weakening the area's security.

    North Korea accuses the United States and its allies of threatening it with exercises and defense buildups.

    Japan said it took no steps to shoot the missile down. But Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said it would consider all measures.

    South Korea also said it would increase its military and cooperation with allies.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the foreign ministers of Japan and South Korea "strongly condemned" North Korea's firing of the missile over Japan. The three countries also condemned North Korea's violation of UN Security Council resolutions and the threat to peace.

    Blinken said that it is important for the three countries to cooperate in holding North Korea "accountable for its unacceptable behavior."

    'Real-world' test

    Ankit Panda is an expert on nuclear policy with the U.S.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said that flying a missile such a long distance permits North Korea's scientists to test it under realistic conditions. It puts the missile under the stress of re-entering the atmosphere.

    South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol called the test "reckless" and said it would bring a decisive response from his country, its allies and the international community.

    Speaking to reporters in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called North Korea's action "barbaric."

    Daniel Kritenbrink, the top American diplomat for East Asia, said the launch over Japan was "not a productive path forward" but Washington is still open to talks.

    I'm Jill Robbins.

    Jill Robbins adapted it for Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    ballistic missile – n. a missile with a high, arching path, which is powered and guided at first, but falls under gravity on to its target.

    rangen. the distance between a target and a weapon

    stress n. strong physical pressure applied to an object

    ironcladadj. unbreakable

    commitmentn. a promise to do something

    recklessadj. not concerned about the consequences of some action; without caution; careless

    barbaricadj. without civilizing influences; uncivilized; primitive