North Korea has fired a missile that passed over Japan before plunging into the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed.
The test is especially aggressive, and could further rattle an anxious region.
After the missile was launched, people in Northern Japan were told to take cover as a precaution with special phone alerts and loud alarms.
"We'll make the utmost effort to protect the public," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Japanese broadcaster NHK early Tuesday, amid fears the missile could end up on land.
South Korea said the missile traveled a total distance of 1,678 miles, in the latest missile test for the country as tensions with North Korea rise. The Pentagon did not release additional details on the launch, saying it was still reviewing information.
The missile was launched at 5:58 a.m. Japanese time from a site north of Pyongyang, The Washington Post reported. It flew over Hokkaido at 6:06 a.m., and landed in the Pacific Ocean, NHK said.
North Korean missile launches, which have been proceeding at an unusually fast pace this year, have Washington and its allies in Asia rattled because each one puts the North a step closer toward its goal of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can reliably target the United States.
Some analysts believe that could be achieved before the end of U.S. President Donald Trump's first term in early 2021.
The incident comes just days after North Korea fired three, short-range ballistic projectiles to the sea.
Cdr. Dave Benham, director of media operations at PACOM, initially said the first and third missiles in that test failed in flight.
But Benham subsequently corrected that information, saying the missiles flew about 155 miles northeast before falling into the sea.
The three launches happened near Kittaeryong, North Korea, and PACOM said it is working with other agencies to provide a more detailed assessment.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command concluded that the three missiles did not pose a threat to North America or Guam.
"We continues to monitor North Korea's actions closely," Benham said, in an emailed statement last week. "U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan."
The launches come weeks after North Korea created a tense standoff with the United States by threatening to lob some of its missiles toward Guam. North Korea also successfully flight-tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles in July that analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected.
North Korea first fired a rocket over Japanese territory in August 1998 when a multistage rocket that outside experts called "Taepodong-1" based on the name of the village it was launched from flew about 932 miles before landing in the Pacific Ocean. The North later said it launched a satellite.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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