Japan condemns North Korea’s ballistic missile launch as ‘outrageous’ and a ‘threat’ to the region

  • North Korea launched ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday — two days after test firing cruise missiles.
  • The move was condemned by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
  • Japan's Suga said the missile launch is "simply outrageous" and is a "threat to the peace and security" of the region.

North Korea launched ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, prompting condemnation from Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

It came two days after the reclusive North test fired cruise missiles.

South Korea's military said two rounds of unidentified ballistic missiles were fired into the open waters of the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, according to NBC News.

Japan's Suga condemned the missile launch as "simply outrageous" and said it was a "threat to the peace and security" of the region.

"It is in violation of UN Security Council resolution, and I strongly protest and condemn this," he said outside his office, adding that the government will continue to monitor the area.

"We will work closely with the U.S., South Korea, and other concerned nations to resolutely protect the lives of our citizens and their peaceful lives," the prime minister said.

The Joint Chief of Staffs of South Korea said local and U.S. intelligence services are conducting detailed analysis.

South Korea will be holding an emergency meeting over the ballistic missile launch on Wednesday afternoon, NBC reported.

"President Moon Jae In was immediately briefed about NK's launch of the unidentified projectile… [and] will be convening the National Security Council meeting with its standing committee members upon returning from his outdoor schedules today," said Park Kyung-mi, the presidential spokesperson in a text briefing.  

The missile launches come during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to Seoul, and may make Beijing appear "unwilling or unable to restrain Pyongyang," according to Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul.

He added that the missile tests contradict international hopes for dialogue, and North Korea is continuing to develop missiles, driven by security strategy and technical factors.

U.S.-North Korea's volatile relations

North Korea regularly uses missile tests to ensure it gets attention from the international community, analysts told CNBC last year. The regime launched missiles early in the terms of former presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump and incumbent Joe Biden.

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that Wednesday's launch "highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's illicit weapons program," but added that it does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, territory or Washington's allies.

It said the U.S. commitment to defending South Korea and Japan "remains ironclad."

U.S.-North Korea relations have been volatile in recent years.

Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un exchanged barbs in 2017, but subsequently moved to hold two bilateral meetings discussing denuclearization and possible sanctions relief. Not much progress was made after the second summit in Hanoi ended abruptly.

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