North Korea sparks condemnation by firing missiles towards Japan

Victory Day parade in Pyongyang. Flickr  Creative Commons  Stefan Krasowski

North Korea's firing of a barrage of missiles Monday - what Prime Minister Shinzo Abe characterized as "a new level of threat" - was training for striking USA military bases in Japan, Pyongyang's state media said Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, North Korea fired four missiles from its western coast towards the Sea of Japan. "The launches are clearly in violation of Security Council resolutions". It is the third time that North Korean missiles have landed within Japan's EEZ.

North Korea's latest missile launches were not tests, they were instead military exercises - preparations for war.

Hwang said the missile test underscored the importance of thoroughly carrying out the military exercises and making full diplomatic efforts to ensure U.N. Security Council resolutions and sanctions against the North are fully implemented.

"President Trump told me that the United States was with Japan 100 percent and that he wanted his comments to be communicated to the Japanese people", Abe said at his residence.

Under global law, territorial waters extend up to 12 nautical miles (22 kilometres) from the coast of a landmass. Chinese authorities have closed almost two dozen retail stores of South Korea's Lotte Group, which approved a land swap with the country's military last week to allow it to install the system.

Also noteworthy is the simultaneous launch of multiple missiles, which may be training to overwhelm the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system scheduled for deployment on South Korean soil this year.

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Tillerson is also expected to visit a US military base or the truce village of Panmunjom on the inter-Korean border during his trip to Seoul in an apparent gesture to reaffirm the steadfast alliance between South Korea and the U.S.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said today that China will "definitely be taking necessary measures to safeguard our own security interest".

Abe said Trump agreed that the threat from North Korea had reached a "new level" for Japan, which relies on the "nuclear umbrella" of the U.S. to protect it from regional threats.

North Korea conducted a number of nuclear and missile tests past year, in contravention of United Nations resolutions.

Asked if North Korea fired more than four missiles, Davis said, "There were four that landed".

South Korea's Disarmament ambassador Kim Inchul said: "THAAD is purely defensive".

Monday's North Korean missile tests were supervised personally by Kim Jong Un, KCNA reported, quoting the supreme leader as saying: "The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation".