Seoul: North Korea fired another missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido Friday morning, just a day after Pyongyang threatened that the four main Japanese islands "should be sunken into the sea" by its nuclear bomb.
The launch, from near Pyongyang, came after the United Nations Security Council imposed an eighth set of measures on the isolated country following its sixth nuclear test earlier this month, AFP reported.
This was the second time in less than three weeks that North Korea had sent a missile over Japan, and immediately sparked angry reactions in Tokyo and Seoul.
The missile was launched from the Sunan airfield just north of Pyongyang at about 6:30 a.m. local time, South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said. It flew for 17 minutes, passing over Hokkaido and landing some 1,200 miles to the east, crashing into the Pacific Ocean.
It was by far its largest to date and Pyongyang said it was a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto a missile.
Millions of Japanese were jolted awake by blaring sirens and emergency text message alerts after the missile was fired.
"Missile launch! missile launch! A missile appears to have been launched from North Korea," loudspeakers blared on Cape Erimo, on Hokkaido's southern tip.
Breakfast television programmes, which usually broadcast a light-hearted diet of children's shows and gadget features, instead flashed up the warning: "Flee into a building or a basement."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tokyo could "never tolerate" what he called a "dangerous provocative action that threatens world peace".
"If North Korea continues to walk down this path, it has no bright future," he told reporters. "We must make North Korea understand this."
In New York, the Security Council called an emergency meeting for later Friday.
On Thursday, a North Korean state agency had issued an alarming threat to Japan.
"The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by [our] nuclear bomb," the Korea Asia-Pacific peace committee said in a statement carried by the official news agency.
Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan's four main islands.
"Japan is no longer needed to exist near us," the committee said.
This is the first missile launch since North Korea conducted a huge nuclear test on Sept. 3, which analysts say appeared to live up to Pyongyang's claim that it was a hydrogen bomb, exponentially more powerful than a normal atomic device.