North Korea launched an apparent ballistic missile on Saturday, Japan’s Defense Ministry said, as the nuclear-armed country continues an unprecedented pace of weapons tests this year.

The test was the country’s ninth of the year, and comes just days ahead of South Korea's March 9 presidential election.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the missile had traveled about 300 kilometers, hitting a maximum altitude of 550 km and landing in waters outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles (370 km) from its coast.