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North Korea appears to have launched a rocket, despite international appeals not to go ahead.
Officials from Japan, South Korea and the US confirmed lift-off at 0230 GMT. The rocket appeared to have passed over Japan to the Pacific, Tokyo said.
North Korea says it is sending a satellite into orbit, but its neighbours suspect the launch could be a cover for a long-range missile test.
They say it violates UN resolutions and have warned of consequences.
"A short time ago a flying object appeared to have been launched from North Korea," the Japanese government statement said.
The US State Department and South Korea's presidential office also confirmed a launch.
Japan did not try to intercept it, as it had indicated that it would if its territory was threatened, it said in a statement.
The US called the launch "provocative" and the Japanese government described it as "regrettable"