TOKYO, 10th March, 2016 (WAM) — Japan on Thursday condemned North Korea for firing two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast.

“It is extremely regrettable. Japan will continue to coordinate with related countries and take all possible measures to gather information,” Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters.

Japan lodged a protest with North Korea over the launch through diplomatic channels, a government source said. The two countries do not have diplomatic ties, Kyodo News Agency reported.

Defense Minister, Gen. Nakatani, said the launch could be Pyongyang’s attempt to oppose the largest-ever military exercises by South Korea and the United States that started Monday.

“Further provocative acts (by North Korea) cannot be ruled out, Nakatani said.

The launch came after the U.N. Security Council slapped a new set of tougher sanctions on North Korea earlier this month in response to Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and its subsequent launch of a long-range rocket using ballistic missile technology, both of which breached past U.N. Resolutions.

WAM/tfaham/Moran