(Photo: Kcna/European Pressphoto Agency-EFE)
For the second time in three weeks, North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the sea off Hokkaido.
The missile was launched around 6:30 in the morning local time and flew for 17 minutes before landing in the Pacific Ocean. Emergency alerts were immediately triggered in Japan and citizens were warned not to touch anything that looked like debris.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch, though there was no attempt to shoot down the missile.
On Thursday, North Korea had sent an alarming message to Japan: “The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by [our] nuclear bomb . . . Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”
The exact strength of the bomb remains undefined, but nuclear tests indicate that it was between 160 and 250 kilotons, making it ten times the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. United States Air Force General John Hyten notes that North Korea’s most recent nuclear test “equates to a hydrogen bomb”, so the U.S. must now assume that they can build one. Though he could not confirm that a hydrogen bomb was tested, “sheer destruction and damage you can use and create with a weapon of that size” make the test significant.