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North Korea launches two ballistic missiles toward Japan; missiles land in international waters between Japan, Korean Peninsula

North Korea missile launch (US Dept of Defense/Released)
September 15, 2021

North Korea launched two ballistic missiles off the nation’s coast toward Japan Wednesday, leading Japan’s prime minister to condemn the move as “absolutely outrageous.”

In a statement released Wednesday, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement that it is “aware of the missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners.”

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” the statement continued. “The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.”

“The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous,” said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, according to The Associated Press. “The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”

The AP reported that Japan’s coast guard said both missiles landed in international waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.  

According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, after the launch, South Korea fired its own missile from a submarine during a prescheduled event.

“Possessing [a submarine-launched ballistic missile] is very meaningful in terms of securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats and it is expected to play a big role in self-reliant national defense and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula, going forward,” South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s office said in a statement.

After the launch, Moon said the South Korean government intends to conduct an impromptu national security council meeting on Wednesday.

On Monday, North Korea said it tested a recently developed cruise missile over the weekend, with state media describing it as a “strategic weapon of great significance,” Fox News reported. The Korean Central News Agency said the missiles demonstrated they could strike targets at least 930 miles away.

The United States maintains a presence of nearly 28,000 troops in South Korea in an effort to deter North Korean aggression.

The launches this week are the first since March, as North Korea’s communist dictator Kim Jong-un dealt with COVID-19, massive flooding and border closures.

Fox reported that Du Hyeogn Cha, an analyst at Seol’s Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the missiles were launched to get Washington’s attention, but didn’t anticipate the mild weapons systems would get the response North Korea was hoping for.