North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan for the first time since 2017 on Tuesday, the government said, a dramatic escalation that prompted Tokyo to issue a rare alert for residents to take cover.

Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the weapon, believed to be a Hwasong-12 IRBM, flew 4,600 kilometers — the longest distance ever traveled by a North Korean missile — flying for about one minute over Aomori Prefecture before eventually landing in the Pacific Ocean some 3,200 km from Japan.

“North Korea's recent series of actions, including its persistent and escalating launches, threaten the peace and security of the region and the globe, and are a serious challenge to the entire international community, including our own country,” Hamada told reporters.