Japan orders evacuation over missile scare


The Japanese authorities issued a brief evacuation order, warning Hokkaido residents that they could be endangered by a North Korean ballistic missile that was expected to land in the northern island’s vicinity on Thursday morning.

The launch was detected at around 7:30am, and Hokkaido residents were warned to evacuate and take shelter immediately, either inside buildings or underground, because the missile was initially projected to come down in the area. However, the government soon retracted the air raid alert, after further analysis showed there was no possibility of the missile landing anywhere near Hokkaido.

At around 8:20am, the Japanese Defense Ministry confirmed that the missile had come down and was no longer a threat. Japan’s Coast Guard said the missile was launched from near Pyongyang and fell outside of the country’s territorial waters, in the Sea of Japan.

The type of the projectile has yet to be established, but its flight time and distance suggests that it was an intermediate- or long-range missile, according to South Korean military sources cited by Yonhap news agency.

The missile test was North Korea’s ninth this year and its first in more than two weeks. It came amid heightened tensions with Seoul. South Korean media outlets reported that North Korean officials have refused to answer calls for six days on the inter-Korean military hotline that the two countries use to avoid miscommunication.

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