UPDATE 2 — 9/2, 6:31 p.m. EDT: China’s foreign ministry announced Saturday it has told Japan not to level unilateral sanctions against North Korea, citing “international law” and UN resolutions.
A Japanese statement Friday said Foreign Minister Taro Kono conveyed to his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, that Pyonyang’s missile launch represented “an unprecedented, serious and grave threat” and is “totally unacceptable,” and called on China to support additional UN sanctions.
UPDATE — 8/29, 9:53 a.m. EDT: Before leaving Washington for South Texas on Tuesday, President Trump issued the following statement in response to North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japanese territory: “(T)his regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior.
Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”
The White House also acknowledged that Trump spoke with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, over the phone after Monday’s launch, with both agreeing that Pyongyang is “a grave and growing direct threat” to regional allies.
North Korea fired a missile Tuesday that flew over the Erimo Cape of Hokkaido, located in northern Japan. The launch occurred at 5:57 a.m. local time and crashed in the Pacific Ocean approximately 733 miles east of the Cape.
The Pentagon confirmed that the missile’s trajectory did indeed pass over Japan, while South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launch near Pyongyang flew a distance of nearly 1,700 miles.
Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, condemned this newest provocation by the isolated nation.
“This outrageous action of firing a missile over our country is an unprecedented, grave and serious threat that seriously damages peace and security in the region,” Abe said. “We have firmly protested to North Korea.”
The Japanese missile warning system alerted residents to the incoming projectile by loudspeaker and in messages sent to locals’ cellphones. Initial reports said that the Japanese military was aware of the missile but declined to shoot it down.
The U.S. has been closely monitoring the rogue nation after North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, threatened to strike the American territory of Guam with an inter-continental ballistic missile.
Earlier in the week, North Korea launched three other short range missiles while the U.S. and South Korea conducted joint military drills. Two of the projectiles flew around 150 miles off the country’s east coast, while the other exploded on the launch pad according to U.S. Pacific Command.
Tuesday’s launch will only add to the immense tension between Pyongyang and the rest of the world.
The government in Tokyo is emphasizing the unprecedented and grim nature of the launch, only the fifth North Korean missile to fly over Japanese land and the first since 2009 over the country’s mainland.
“We have to say that this morning’s launch by the North is the most serious and grave threat ever to us, as the missile seems to have passed through our airspace,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.
President Donald Trump has not yet released an official statement about the international incident, via press release or even tweet.
[Wall Street Journal] [CNN] [Washington Post] [AP] [Vox] [Japan Times] [Photo courtesy Lee Jin-man/AP via NPR]