The North's launch comes a day after Pyongyang threatened to sink Japan, warns US for supporting the newest UNSC sanctions resolution.

Pedestrians walk past a TV screen broadcasting a news report showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Tokyo on September 15, 2017, following a North Korean missile test that passed over Japan.
Pedestrians walk past a TV screen broadcasting a news report showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Tokyo on September 15, 2017, following a North Korean missile test that passed over Japan. (AFP)

North Korea conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile on Friday, sending an intermediate-range weapon that flew over Japan's northern Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean, South Korean and Japanese officials said, further ratcheting up tensions after Pyongyang's recent test of its most powerful nuclear bomb.

The missile flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific about 2,000 km east of Hokkaido, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters in a hastily organised media conference.

"These repeated provocations on the part of North Korea are impermissible and we protest in the strongest words," Suga said.

Warning announcements about the missile blared around 2200 GMT on Thursday (7:00 am) in the town of Kamaishi, northern Japan, footage from national broadcaster NHK showed.

TRT World's Joseph Kim reports from Seoul. 

Reactions from world leaders were swift.

US calls for Russia and China to step in

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China and Russia to take direct action against North Korea in response to its latest missile launch.

"China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own," Tillerson said in a statement.

He said China supplies North Korea with most of its oil and "Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labour."

The US military said soon after the launch it had detected a single intermediate range ballistic missile but the missile did not pose a threat to North America or the US Pacific territory of Guam, which lies 3,400 km (2,110 miles) from North Korea. Pyongyang had previously threatened to launch missiles towards Guam.

TRT World's Harry Horton has the reaction from Washington

"The range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile," the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a statement.

Tillerson called for "new measures" against North Korea and said the "continued provocations only deepen North Korea's diplomatic and economic isolation".

South Korea launches missile

South Korean President Moon Jae-in echoed that view and said dialogue with the North was impossible at this point. He ordered officials to analyse and prepare for possible new North Korean threats, including electro-magnetic pulse and biochemical attacks, a spokesman said.

South Korea said it had fired a missile test into the sea to coincide with North Korea's launch and the presidential Blue House has called an urgent National Security Council meeting. 

South Koreas missile system fires Hyunmu-2 missile into the East Sea from an undisclosed location on South Koreas east coast during a live-fire exercise aimed to counter North Korea’s missile test on Friday.
South Koreas missile system fires Hyunmu-2 missile into the East Sea from an undisclosed location on South Koreas east coast during a live-fire exercise aimed to counter North Korea’s missile test on Friday. (AFP)

China says it's not responsible

China's foreign ministry spokeswomen Hua Chunying denied that China held the key to easing tensions on the Korean peninsula and said that duty lay with the parties directly involved.

"Any attempt to wash their hands of the issue is irresponsible and unhelpful for its resolution," she said, reiterating China's position that sanctions are only effective if paired with talks.

China's Foreign Ministry said that it opposed North Korea's use of ballistic missiles in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. But the emphasis on curbing North Korea's missile and nuclear capabilities should not come at the expense of pushing for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

Hua said China had made enormous sacrifices to implement United Nations Security Council resolutions and that its sincerity could not be doubted.

TRT World's Joel Flynn has the latest from Japan

UK's May "outraged"

Prime Minister Theresa May said Britain was "outraged" by North Korea's firing of the missile.

"The prime minister is outraged by North Korea's continued reckless provocation and she strongly condemns the regime's illegal tests," May's spokesman said.

"Our key focus now is continuing to press China to keep up the pressure on North Korea to change course."

Russia comments

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made comments to reporters on a conference call.

"In Russia we are deeply concerned about these provocative launches which are further stoking tensions. Clearly demonstrating that our position is that such launches are unacceptable is the most tangible thing we can do right now," said Peskov.

"Judging by the United Nations' Security Council, that is a unanimous point of view which unites Security Council members."

Japan says sanctions needed

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the United Nations sanctions on North Korea needed to be firmly imposed.           

"The international community needs to come together and send a clear message to North Korea that it is threatening world peace with its actions," Abe told reporters in Tokyo, describing the launch as "unacceptable."

TRT World's Ediz Tiyansan has the background on the story. 

UN to hold crisis talks

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the test, and said talks on the crisis would be held on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting next week.

Guterres called on the North Korean leadership "to cease further testing, comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions, and allow space to explore the resumption of sincere dialogue on denuclearisation," read a statement by his spokesman.

The 15-member Security Council unanimously stepped up sanctions against North Korea on Monday over its September 3 nuclear test, imposing a ban on the country's textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.

It was the ninth UN sanctions resolution adopted on North Korea since 2006.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies