Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK, mistakenly reported that North Korea had filed a missile that landed in the sea off the country’s northernmost island of Hokkaido early on Friday.
NHK ran a newsflash on its website and news app at 12.22 am, but corrected the error about 20 minutes later, according to the Nikkei daily business paper.
The broadcaster apologised for the mistake, saying it had been intended for “training purposes”.
The original report stated that the missile had landed in the sea about 2,000km east of Hokkaido.
North Korea sent missiles over the island in 2017 to demonstrate its ability to strike US military targets on the Pacific island of Guam.
Two launches in August and September that year triggered alerts urging million of residents in northern Japan to take cover in sturdy buildings or underground.
Friday’s erroneous online bulletin comes at a time of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, as Pyongyang’s end-of year deadline approaches for the US to make concessions to resurrect stalled denuclearisation talks.
US special envoy for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, dismissed the deadline but said Washington was ready to resume negotiations at any time during a visit to South Korea earlier this month.
Speculation that the North is preparing to test an intercontinental ballistic missile rose after its foreign ministry recently warned it would send the US a “Christmas gift” depending on what concessions Washington was prepared to make.
But there were no reports of missile of other tests by the regime on Christmas Day.
NHK was forced to apologise in January 2018 after mistakenly sending out a J-alert warning that North Korea had fired a missile.
The error drew a rebuke from the chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga. “J-alert provides extremely important information that affects the safety and security of Japanese citizens. We want NHK to do their utmost to prevent a recurrence,” Suga said.
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