North Korea on Sunday launched two tactical ballistic missiles into the ocean, in defiance of U.N. Security Council rules, Reuters reports.
The launched missiles are thought to have been Scuds, according to a South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff official. The weapons exercise comes days after Pyongyang test-fired several projectiles of what the regime described as "a newly developed tactical guided missile."
North Korea is banned by the Security Council from using ballistic missile technology. However, the isolated country habitually violates the ban by test-firing ballistic missiles, actions that some analysts believe to be supporting the development of longer-range, high-altitude missiles.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said his government would protest the missile launch when it holds senior-level talks with North Korean officials on Tuesday in Beijing, Kyodo News reported.
Tokyo and Pyongyang officials are meeting to discuss a draft agreement to investigate what happened to Japanese citizens that were abducted by North Korea in previous decades. In return for Pyongyang's cooperation in the investigation, Tokyo has pledged to relax some of its national sanctions against the North, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
South Korea's foreign minister on Monday said the agreement risked harming cooperation between the South, the United States and Japan on resolving a long-running impasse over the North's nuclear weapons work.
Seoul "does not exclude the possibility that [the Pyongyang-Tokyo deal] may develop in a way that deepens concerns about trilateral coordination [over North Korea's nuclear issues]," Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said to the South Korean legislature.
Meanwhile, the United States, Japan and South Korea are each set to dispatch their highest-ranking military officials to Hawaii this week for three-way discussions on enhancing cooperation against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, Yonhap separately reported.
"Joint preparedness against North Korea's nuclear and missile programs is required at least in the military field at a time when there are difficulties in the relations between South Korea and Japan," an anonymous South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff officer said on Monday.