The threat to use a nuclear weapon against Japan came just days after North Korea was hit with fresh United Nations sanctions earlier this week and further escalated tensions in North Asia.
“Japan is no longer needed to exist near us,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said on Thursday, citing a statement by the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.
“The four islands of the archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” it said, a reference to the regime’s ideology of self-reliance.
Shortly after, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denounced Pyongyang’s comments as “extremely provocative.”
On Monday, the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a US-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea. The move came just one week after Pyongyang carried out its sixth and largest nuclear test.
Hit hard by a wide array of UN-imposed sanctions over its nuclear and missile programs, Pyongyang justifies its effort by the need to have a strong deterrence against its archenemy, the United States, and its regional allies, including South Korea and Japan.
Washington has not ruled out a military option against North Korea, but Russia and China insist on a diplomatic solution to the crisis.