The Japanese government says an emergency evacuation warning it issued and later retracted for residents of the northern island of Hokkaido after a North Korean missile launch was appropriate and not an error.
“We did not correct the information issued by the J-Alert [emergency broadcasting system],” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a news conference on Thursday.
He said the North Korean missile disappeared from Japan’s radar immediately after detection.
Further analysis that found there was no possibility of its landing in Japan’s territory then led to the lifting of the evacuation warning.
“The J-Alert warning was issued to inform citizens of the danger of a falling missile to prioritise citizens’ safety,” Mr Matsuno said.
The missile flew about 1,000 km, South Korea’s military said earlier, calling it a “grave provocation”. The apogee, or maximum altitude of the missile, has not been disclosed.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his government would hold a national security council meeting on the launch.
Defence Minister, Yasukazu Hamada said the missile appeared to have been fired eastward at a high angle.
Japan’s coast guard said the projectile had fallen into the sea to the east of North Korea. Mr Hamada said he could not confirm whether the missile flew over Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
ABC reports that North Korea regularly launches ballistic missiles that fall near Japan’s waters, adding that the latest launch came days after North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un called for strengthening the country’s war deterrence in a “more practical and offensive” manner to counter what Pyongyang called moves of aggression by the US.