Photo/IllutrationForeign Minister Fumio Kishida, who doubles as defense minister following the resignation of Tomomi Inada on July 28, speaks about North Korea’s missile launch at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo early on July 29. (Ryo Aibara)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

Japan on July 29 filed a protest with North Korea over its launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the previous night, which landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ) off Hokkaido.

The protest was made through its embassy in Beijing.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida talked on the phone separately with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha in the morning of July 29.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in the afternoon, "Japan, the United States and South Korea are in complete agreement that we need to ratchet up pressure (on North Korea) through the U.N. Security Council and other venues."

He added that Japan will maintain high alert levels and take every step to secure the safety of its citizens.

"There is a probability that North Korea will take further provocative actions," he said.

No damage has been reported to aircraft or ships, according to the Japanese Defense Ministry.

Abe and other high-ranking government officials convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) at the prime minister’s office before dawn on July 29 to analyze the situation and discuss responses.

Kishida, who serves concurrently as defense minister following the resignation of Tomomi Inada on July 28, was present.

After the emergency meeting, Abe told reporters, “Following the launch of an ICBM-class missile (on July 4), the latest launch clearly shows that the threats to our country’s security have become grave and real.”

Kishida headed for the Defense Ministry after the NSC meeting and was briefed by ministry officials. He arrived at the Foreign Ministry, some 5 kilometers away, around 3:30 a.m., or roughly two and a half hours after he attended the NSC meeting.

Kishida told reporters that his doubling of the two portfolios had not hampered the government's intelligence-gathering and alert status, despite the time he spent getting between the two ministries.

North Korea launched the projectile at 11:42 p.m. July 28 from a site near Mupyongri in Jangang province. It came down in the Sea of Japan.

According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, the missile flew for about 45 minutes over a distance of about 1,000 km.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it reached an altitude of 3,700 km, the highest ever confirmed for a North Korean missile.

The missile splashed down about 200 km west of the Shakotan Peninsula off western Hokkaido and about 150 km northwest of Okushiri island, also off western Hokkaido. The area is within Japan's EEZ.