Abe said following a hastily convened bureau chief-level meeting at the Cabinet Office early Thursday morning that his government would firmly protest the latest actions from Pyongyang and continue to work closely with the United States, South Korea and other concerned parties to gather intelligence and further assess the situation.
While no damage has as yet been reported to aircraft or vessels in the vicinity, the Japanese leader said the launch was in clear violation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and threatened the safety of both commercial maritime and aviation operations in the area.
The latest missile launch comes just days after South Korea and the United States started their largest ever annual military exercises comprising around 17,000 U.S. troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.
The joint military exercises themselves follow the DPRK launching a rocket on Feb. 7, which was widely believed to be a de facto test of ballistic missile technology banned under UNSC resolutions.
On Jan. 6, the DPRK said it had successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, marking the fourth nuclear test by Pyongyang.
The UNSC on March 2 imposed a new set of tough sanctions on the DPRK aimed at pressuring it into dropping its nuclear weapons and missile programs.
Pyongyang has said, however, that it has successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads to be small enough to be carried by a ballistic missiles.