North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan

Seoul commuters at a train station watch coverage of the latest North Korean missile launch. AP: Ahn Young-joon

EARLIER today, at approximately 6:06am local time, North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan.

Considering North Korea has conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests under young leader Kim Jong-un, the firing of projectiles over mainland Japan is rare and a significant event. The current tensions in the area and the globe in general, has certainly been heightened by this act from the North Koreans.

The missile was launched from near the North Korean capital Pyongyang and flew about 2,700 kilometres, reaching an altitude of about 550km.

It flew over Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido before breaking into three pieces and falling into the sea about 1,180 km to the east of Japan.

The eerie sounds of air raid sirens sounded in northern Japan as the missile approached, with people being warned to take shelter in basements.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says his nation is facing a “serious and grave threat” after North Korea fired a missile over northern Japan this morning.

The Pentagon has said, that while it was gathering more information, the missile did not pose a threat to North America.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said, “North Korea is in breach of numerous UN Security Council resolutions and is acting illegally”.

Ms Bishop also said, “Australia and Japan are in close contact … We stand ready to support Japan at any time.”.

The question remains, will there be more tests soon? Well, David Schmerler, a research associate from the James Martin Centre for Non-proliferation Studies in Monterery, California, said if the launch was a failed test of a longer-range system, North Korea may be quick to try again.

He also said that the missile was launched from Soonan, close to Pyongyang, probably allowing North Korea to demonstrate that a missile could be launched from anywhere in the country using a mobile launcher.

Where to from here? It’s going to be up to Kim Jong-Un to cease missile and nuclear testing, and/ or the west to remove the flammable material before it becomes a fully fledged fire – one that may be difficult to quell.