Alarms sound in Japan as North Korean missile flies over

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Even as Japanese and U.S. military officials positioned surface-to-air defense batteries, North Korea early Tuesday morning fired a ballistic missile over the island.

The missile was launched just before 6 a.m. Tuesday, Japan time.

"North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America" said Col. Rob Manning, the director of press operations at the Department of Defense. "We are working closely with Pacific Command, Strategic Command and NORAD, and we'll provide an update as soon as possible."

"Nothing seemed to have dropped on Japanese soil," Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, told the NHK network.

The rocket launch unnerved Japanese residents as sirens wailed on TV and social media, warning people living in northern prefectures to take safe cover. Recently they have been going through civil defense drills to prepare for an actual attack.

North Korean ballistic missiles have passed through Japanese airspace at least four times in the past - and, like this one, landed harmlessly in the sea. Tuesday's fell into the Pacific Ocean about 730 miles east of Hokkaido, Japan.

Tokyo labeled Tuesday's test firing a "grave threat." Perhaps not coincidentally, Japanese and U.S. military members, about 3,500 strong, have been participating in Operation: Northern Viper the past 18 days. That joint exercise was based in the same northern Japan city where the missile passed overhead.

The U.S. is also in military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang has publicly said U.S.-South Korean exercises are an invasion rehearsal. The allies say such war games are defensive and meant to counter North Korean aggression.
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