Tokyo, Japan (CNN) North Korea launched a “suspected ballistic missile” on Sunday, Japan’s defense ministry said.
The news follows several missile tests by North Korea, including the launch of a long-range ballistic missile on Thursday when the leaders of South Korea and Japan met in Tokyo, and two submarine-launched cruise missiles and two short-range ballistic missiles a day earlier.
Japan’s coast guard said in a statement released at 11:20 a.m. local time that the missile launched on Sunday appeared to have landed.
It warned all ships to wait for more information; not to approach fallen objects; and report anything suspicious.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) also said they detected one short-range ballistic missile fired from the Dongchang-ri area of North Korea’s North Pyongan Province at around 11:05 a.m. local time.
The JCS said the military had strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional launches “while maintaining a full alert posture in close coordination with the United States.”
Pyongyang’s latest tests coincide with spring joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, the biggest war games the allies have staged in five years.
Ahead of the 11-day Freedom Shield drills, North Korea had threatened to take “the strongest countermeasures against the cruelest plots of the United States and its followers.”
Sunday’s ballistic missile launch came a day after North Korea claimed that around 800,000 of its citizens had volunteered to join the country’s military to fight the United States.
State newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported on Saturday that some 800,000 students and workers across the country had expressed their desire to enlist or re-enlist in the military to oppose the United States on Friday alone.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has accused the United States and South Korea of increasing tensions during military exercises.
North Korea often responds to threats it sees as “provocations” by the United States. In addition to joint military exercises and a meeting between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese leader Fumio Kishida this week, it has made an exception to US President Joe Biden’s plan to host Yoo and his wife at the White House next month, experts said.
The state visit, the second of Biden’s presidency, will highlight the close ties between the United States and South Korea, and will take place on April 26. Conservative Yoon and his administration have made strengthening the US-South Korea alliance a key foreign policy goal. Biden has also sought to nurture the relationship, including a symbolic token of his trip to Seoul in May 2022, his first stop on his inaugural tour of Asia as president.
Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, recently told CNN that in response to the drills and summits, Pyongyang may “order longer-range missiles, attempt a spy satellite launch, demonstrate a solid-fuel engine, and perhaps even conduct a nuclear test.”
According to an earlier report by CNN’s Gawon Bae