“We find it truly regrettable that North Korea has continued to fire missiles from last year,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.
It’s the first missile launch in about two months following a series of tests from September to November of last year, including a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
Kim Jong Un pledged last week at a meeting for Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party to increase the country’s military might.
“The increasingly unstable military environment on the Korean Peninsula and international politics have instigated calls to vigorously push forward with our national defense build-up plans without any delay,” the leader, who marked 10 years in power, said at the meeting, according to the Korean Central News Agency.
The United States and Pyongyang haven’t held formal nuclear talks since 2019, when negotiations initiated by the Trump administration broke down.
Nation Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said last month that the Biden administration “has not gotten traction in diplomacy with North Korea” during Biden’s first year in office.
“We have communicated our willingness and readiness to engage in that diplomacy, and in the meantime, we’re continuing to enforce our sanctions and align closely with our allies,” Sullivan said at the Council for Foreign Relations on Dec. 17.
North Korea’s extensive domestic troubles have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, as the hermit kingdom cut itself off from much of the Chinese aid that has been its lifeline for years.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.