On Monday, Japan moved to the highest possible alert level after North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles into the East Sea, with three landing less than 200 miles from Japan’s northwest coast. According to Bloomberg, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told lawmakers in Tokyo that North Korea’s latest launches “clearly show that this is a new level of threat.”
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“North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities have really improved, and they are becoming more difficult to predict,” Abe said. The missiles “are getting closer to Japan’s waters and territory.”
North Korea reportedly tried firing a total of five missiles, according the military authorities in the United States. While one missile failed to launch, three of the other four dropped within 200 miles of Japan’s northwest coast in the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan. The missiles fell within the bounds of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, a 200-nautical-mile area where Tokyo has sovereign rights.
Earlier, Abe said North Korea’s missile launches were “an extremely dangerous action” and that they are “clearly in violation of [U.N.] Security Council resolutions.”
The launches come just months after South Korea and the U.S. announced the plan for the United States to implement a THAAD missile defense system in the region
Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s acting president, called on the United States to complete the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile defense system which the two countries announced would be deployed to the region. After the announcement was made in July, North Korea threatened “counter-action” that would turn South Korea into a “sea of fire.”