By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
TOKYO/SEOUL (Worthy News) – Japan’s government urged its citizens to take cover on Tuesday as North Korea fired a potentially nuclear-capable ballistic missile over the country.
Adding to concerns about its nuclear capabilities, the launch appeared as part of a muscle-flexing exercise by the isolated Communist-run nation after recent joint military exercises between the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
While the missile appeared to fly over and past Japanese territory before falling into the Pacific Ocean, observers said it was a sign of North Korea’s “growing confidence.”
The missile traveled 4,500km (2,800 miles) before falling into the Pacific Ocean – far enough to hit the US island of Guam if it took another trajectory. It is the first North Korean missile launch over Japan since 2017.
People in the north of Japan, including Hokkaido island and Aomori city, reportedly woke up to the noise of sirens and text alerts that read: “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. Please evacuate into buildings or underground.”
As the missile flew overhead, they were warned to look for falling debris. Many appeared to remain calm, with a video showing Tokyo commuters walking calmly as loudspeakers blared out warnings.
But others were more shaken. “If a missile hit, I was worried it would be a big problem not only here but also nationwide,” Aomori resident Kazuko Ebina told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
Officials later said the intermediate-range ballistic missile fell into the Pacific Ocean far from Japan, and there were no reported injuries.
Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida described the launch as “violent behavior.” At the same time, defense minister Yasukazu Hamada said Japan would not rule out any options to strengthen its defenses, including “counterattack capabilities.”
The US National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson called it a “dangerous and reckless decision” that was “destabilizing” to the region.
North Korea’s ruler Kim Jong-un has been speeding up his expensive nation’s nuclear weapons program, despite many of his people facing deep poverty.
Additionally, at least hundreds of thousands of people, including many devoted Christians, are believed to be held in North Korea’s notorious prison camps for their faith in Christ.