TOKYO — North Korea on Tuesday fired a ballistic missile that was believed to have flown over Japan, prompting a rare warning by the Japanese government for residents in two northern prefectures to seek shelter.
If the missile’s path over Japan is confirmed, it would be the first such launch by North Korea since 2017, and represent a major escalation as Pyongyang has conducted a flurry of missile tests in recent days.
According to Japan’s Ministry of Defense, the missile passed over Japan toward the Pacific Ocean at 7:22 a.m. and landed in the ocean 17 minutes later.
North Korea has fired 23 ballistic and other missiles this year — four just this week — but it was the first time since 2017 that Japan had issued a warning for residents to take shelter.
The government exhorted people in the prefectures of Aomori and Hokkaido, as well as several islands near Tokyo, to seek shelter while it tracked the path of the missile.
The last time a North Korean missile flew over Japan was on Sept. 15, 2017, when the country launched its intermediate-range ballistic missile Hwasong-12. The missile flew 2,300 miles, crashing into waters 1,370 miles east of Hokkaido, the northernmost main Japanese island.
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