Japan Protests N.korea's Missile Launches

Japan protests N.Korea's missile launches

Japanese officials say North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on Thursday afternoon.

Japan's Defense Minister says the missiles were launched from the eastern part of North Korea at around 5 p.m., Japan Time.

Taro Kono said, "We estimate that they flew 380 kilometers and reached an altitude of 100 kilometers before landing in the Sea of Japan."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also criticized the launch.

Abe said, "North Korea's repeated ballistic missile launches present a serious challenge to Japan, as well as the international community."

A senior Japanese foreign ministry official says it has lodged a protest with Pyongyang through its embassy in Beijing.

North Korea has now conducted 13 missile tests since May. Thursday's launch comes less than a week after South Korea decided to maintain a military intelligence- sharing pact with Japan.

The launch also comes amid stalled denuclearization talks between the North and the US.

The North wants the US to lift its sanctions against the country before dismantling its nuclear program. But Washington wants Pyongyang to act first.

North Korea has imposed a yearend deadline for the US to take a more flexible approach.