S.Korea: N.Korea launched 8 missiles

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says North Korea launched eight ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan on Sunday morning.

South Korea held a National Security Council meeting following the launches. President Yoon Suk-yeol ordered the expanded deterrence of South Korea and the United States and continued reinforcement of a united defense posture.

Japan's Defense Ministry reports at least six missiles were fired eastward from points near North Korea's west coast, east coast and near the country's inland region.

They are believed to have landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio strongly condemned the launches, calling them a violation of international law.

Kishida said, "North Korea has repeatedly launched ballistic missiles, including new ICBMs, at high frequency since the beginning of this year. A series of North Korean actions threaten the peace and stability of the region and the international community, and cannot be tolerated."

An expert says launching multiple missiles from different locations at roughly the same time makes it harder for them to be intercepted.

A former Vice Admiral of Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force, Koda Yoji, said, "The priority may be testing the missiles' capability, but the simultaneous launches could also mean the North is testing real combat strategies."

The launches came after a series of events showcasing the close ties between Japan, the United States and South Korea.

On Friday, senior defense officials from the three countries met and stressed their readiness to cooperate with each other.

South Korea and the US had just concluded a three-day joint drill on Saturday.

An expert on North Korean affairs says the launches may be an attempt to counter the alliance between the United States and South Korea.

Nanzan University Professor Hiraiwa Shunji said, "After a new conservative administration was formed by Yoon, South Korea has been stressing cooperative relations with Japan and the US. I think the North's latest act could be taken as a complaint against the US-South Korea joint military drills."

Japan's Defense Ministry announced after the launches that Japan's Self-Defense Force and the US military conducted a joint drill on Sunday. They said the exercise was based on the scenario of a ballistic missile launch.