Tokyo / Seoul: North Korea fired a missile that flew over Japan towards the Pacific, the Japanese government said Thursday.
The missile travelled above the nation at around 7:48 am (2248 GMT), the prime minister's office said in a tweet, as television broadcasters broke into programming to urge residents in some areas to take shelter or stay indoors.
North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles on Thursday, including one that triggered an alert to residents in parts of central and northern Japan to seek shelter, the latest in a record year of missile testing by the nuclear-armed North.
The launches came a day after North Korea fired at least 23 missiles, the most in a single day, including one that landed off South Korea's coast for the first time.
Residents of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures in northern Japan were warned on Thursday to seek shelter indoors, according to the J-Alert Emergency Broadcasting System.
The warning said a missile had flown over and past Japan. Japan's Ministry of Defense later said the missile did not fly over Japanese territory.
About 25 minutes after the launch was first reported, Japan's Coast Guard said the missile had fallen. It landed in the Pacific Ocean 1,100 kilometers (680 miles) east of Japan, broadcaster FNN reported, citing government sources.
The Yonhap news agency reported the first missile went through stage separation, suggesting it may be a long-range weapon such as an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
About an hour after the first launch, South Korea's military and the Japanese coast guard reported a second launch from North Korea. Japan's coast guard then reported a third possible launch.
After North Korea's launches on Wednesday, including one missile that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off South Korea's coast, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described the flights as "territorial encroachment" and Washington denounced them as "reckless".
South Korea issued rare air raid warnings and launched its own missiles in response after Wednesday's barrage.
The launches came after Pyongyang demanded the United States and South Korea stop large-scale military exercises, saying such "military rashness and provocation can be no longer tolerated".
The allies have been conducting one of the largest air exercises ever, with hundreds of South Korean and US warplanes, including F-35 fighters, staging around-the-clock simulated missions.
On October 4, North Korea launched a ballistic missile over Japan for the first time in five years, prompting a warning for residents there to take cover. It was the farthest North Korea had ever fired a missile.
Unidentified ballistic missile
Seoul's military earlier said North Korea fired an "unidentified ballistic missile" Thursday, a day after after Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles including one that landed near South Korea's territorial waters.
"North Korea fires unidentified ballistic missile towards East Sea," Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.