NHK television issued the message Tuesday on its internet and mobile news sites as well as on Twitter, saying North Korea appeared to have fired a missile at Japan. It said the government was telling people to take shelter.
That mistake was corrected five minutes later.
NHK deleted its tweet, issued a correction and apologized several times on air. It said a mistake in using the alert system caused the error.
The false alarm came two days after Hawaii's emergency management department sent a mistaken warning of a North Korean missile attack to mobile phones across the state, triggering panic.
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The Hawaii Emergency Management agency said an employee accidentally pushed the wrong button.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.