The Japanese government announced on Tuesday at 10:46 p.m., local time, that North Korea launched at least one missile. It likely flew over Japan's southwestern prefecture of Okinawa toward the Pacific Ocean.
Prime Minister Kishida Fumio told reporters, "Even if it is called a satellite, a launch using ballistic missile technology is a clear violation of related UN resolutions.
This is a serious situation that affects the safety of the people of Japan. Japan lodged a protest with North Korea and condemned the country in the strongest terms."
The government issued an evacuation alert, which was later lifted. The Self-Defense Forces took no steps to destroy the projectile.
The Defense Ministry says there is no confirmation of a satellite in orbit. Officials are analyzing whether the launch was a failure or a success.
The government advises the public to stay away from anything that could be debris.
Sources say no debris has been reported inside Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone so far.
North Korea had warned of plans to launch what it calls an artificial satellite into orbit sometime between November 22 and 30.
In an extremely rare occurrence, the latest launch came more than one hour ahead of that timeframe.
A South Korean media outlet reports experts say it cannot be ruled out that the schedule may have been moved up due to expected bad weather Wednesday morning.
South Korea's military says the projectile is what Pyongyang calls a military reconnaissance satellite.
The latest launch is North Korea's third attempt at putting a so-called satellite into orbit, after failures in May and August.