North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan, prompting evacuation order

North Korea launched a suspected intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, Japanese and South Korean officials said Tuesday. 

The missile, which was the first North Korean projectile to pass through Japanese airspace since 2017, landed in the Pacific Ocean.

The Japanese government issued a rare evacuation order Tuesday morning, urging residents in the Aomori and Hokkaido prefectures in the northern region to take shelter.

Japanese officials said the missile flew outside of the country’s exclusive economic zone, but they warned about falling debris.

North Korea has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year as it diversifies and expands its weapons arsenal, part of leader Kim Jong Un’s five-year plan. 

North Korea has conducted five rounds of ballistic missile tests since Sept. 24, ahead of Vice President Harris’s visit to the region last week.

In recent weeks, the U.S., Japanese and South Korean governments have all conducted military exercises designed to demonstrate the allies’ readiness to work together in the event of a conflict.

The latest launch came as the United States and South Korea wrap up their joint military exercises involving the USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.