Japan issues evacuation order after North Korea fired ballistic missile

North Korea launched a ballistic missile from the Pyongyang area Thursday morning, April 13, prompting Japanese authorities to issue evacuation warnings to residents of the northern island of Hokkaido.

Japan’s defense ministry said North Korea launched an ICBM at a lofted angle at 7:22 a.m. KST and initially warned it would land in the vicinity of Hokkaido around 8 a.m.


Japanese authorities later issued a “correction” to the evacuation order, saying the missile did not pose a danger to residents and that there was no indication it landed inside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).


Tokyo said the missile landed in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) just before 8:19 a.m., meaning it was in the air for just under an hour.


South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) agreed the missile was launched at “a vertical angle” from the Pyongyang area around 7:23 a.m. and that it flew around 621 miles (1,000 km) before splashing down. Seoul called it an “intermediate- or longer-range ballistic missile.”


Nuclear envoys of the U.S., South Korea and Japan “strongly condemned” the launch and called it a “provocation,” according to a readout of a remote meeting on Thursday morning between Sung Kim, Kim Gunn and Takehiro Funakosh.


Military officials from the three countries are also scheduled to discuss “DPRK nuclear and missile threats and concrete ways to enhance trilateral defense cooperation” at Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) in Washington on Friday.


The White House National Security Council said in a statement Thursday that the launch “needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing” regional security, and that North Korea is is neglecting “the well-being of its people” by focusing on missile development.

“The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement,” NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson said.


Thursday’s launch appears to be North Korea’s first in over two weeks and comes as Pyongyang has not responded to routine inter-Korean military hotline calls for seven days, according to Seoul.