North Korea on Thursday launched two ballistic missiles into waters between the country and Japan, in what the Japanese leader called a “threat to peace to security.”
“Japan firmly protests the launches, which are a violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said in a news conference.
The missile test was the first since March last year, and the first carried out since U.S. President Joe Biden took office. In a statement, the U.S. military said the missile launches highlighted “the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbors and the international community,” Reuters reported.
The missile launches coincided with the start of the Tokyo Olympic torch relay on Thursday morning, four months ahead of the start of the summer games.
The launches came a few days after North Korea’s test fires of two short-range cruise missiles on Sunday. Biden, who has not commented on the Thursday launches, downplayed the weekend tests, saying “there’s no new wrinkle in what they did.”
North Korea is banned from developing ballistic missiles under United Nations Security Council resolutions. But Pyongyang has continued to test its weaponry and demonstrate its advances in military technology.
Just a few days before Biden entered the White House, North Korea unveiled a new submarine-launched ballistic missile during a parade. North Korean state media described it as “the world’s most powerful weapon,” although its capabilities have not been confirmed by other countries.
Japan’s Suga said he will speak with U.S. and South Korean officials about growing concerns over security in the region.