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  • A short-range Scud flew about 450km before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

    A short-range Scud flew about 450km before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea). | Photo: Reuters

"The North Korean problem is the international community's top priority. In order to deter them, we will take concrete action with the United States."

Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Shinzo Abe said his country will join the United States in taking concrete action against North Korea, following their latest ballistic missile test.

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The latest test involved a short-range Scud which flew about 450km before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) between the Korean Peninsula and Japan on Monday, according to the U.S. Pacific Command. This is the third test in as many weeks, and the 12th this year.

"We will never tolerate North Korea's continued provocations that ignore repeated warnings by the international community," Abe told reporters.

All the North's tests have been carried out in direct defiance of UN sanctions warnings and U.S. threats of military action.

"As agreed during the G7 summit, the North Korean problem is the international community's top priority. In order to deter North Korea, we will take concrete action with the United States," said the Japanese PM.

Michael Penn, president of the Tokyo-based Shingetsu news agency, told Al Jazeera that North Korea's latest missile test was part of an effort to strengthen its military against any possible threats from the U.S.

"The missile technology tests themselves do seem to be the priority of the North Korean regime, to get their technology as strong as possible, as quickly as possible. They feel this is their best way forward – to show their own ability to defend themselves against a Trump Administration they cannot predict," Penn explained.

In a recent interview, U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis said a war with North Korea would be "catastrophic." He told CBS News that the North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth – the capital of South Korea.

Mattis further warned that the regime “is a threat to the region, to Japan, to South Korea. In the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well. But the bottom line is, it would be a catastrophic war if this turns into a combat, if we're not able to resolve this situation through diplomatic means." Mattis declined to say what kind of action from Pyongyang would constitute a "red line" for Washington, saying the administration needs "political maneuver room."

South Korea President Moon Jae-In scheduled a meeting of the national security council to assess the launch from their neighbor. "That the North repeated such provocations after the inauguration of our new leadership... is a direct challenge to our demand for peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," the South Korean foreign ministry declared.

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