North Korea tested its ballistic missiles this morning. According to the government in Tokyo, they have ended up in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Eastern Sea. It is North Korea’s second missile test in a week, while the country is groaning under an impending famine and possibly also the coronavirus.
South Korea said two short-range ballistic missiles were fired in an easterly direction. They would have reached a maximum height of 60 kilometres and ended up 800 kilometres further in the Sea of Japan, also called the Eastern Sea in Korea. No injuries or damage were reported.
South Korea, the United States, but especially Japan reacted incensed to the test. Not only is it a violation of a United Nations ban, but according to the government in Tokyo, the missiles ended up in Japan’s “Exclusive Economic Zone” (EEZ). That is that part of the sea on which Japan can assert exclusive rights concerning, for example, fishing or mineral resources.
It is already the second North Korean test in a few days. Recently, the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang had fired a test cruise missile that might be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The tests may be intended to attract international attention amid famine looming in North Korea.
Incidentally, the tests are going in two directions: just today, a South Korean submarine fired a ballistic missile under the sea. This makes South Korea the seventh state in the world to have developed such technology on its own.
That test and the statements by South Korean President Moon Jae-in, on the other hand, have angered Kim Yo-jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. She threatens to blow up all relations between North and South Korea. (Read more below the photo).
Whether it has anything to do with it is not clear, but next Friday, the heads of state and government of the so-called “Quad” – the alliance between the United States, Japan, Australia and India – will meet in Washington. That Quad or “four pillars” has grown to counterbalance China and, to a lesser extent, North Korea.
Those four countries – including economic, political and military heavyweights – have been holding military exercises for years and want to gain influence in East Asia and the Indian Ocean.