North Korea has fired a short-range ballistic missile off its east coast in a rare late-night, New Year's Day weapons test.

Iran PressAsia: The move came less than 24 hours after North Korea launched three ballistic missiles on Saturday, capping a year when the isolated country conducted an unprecedented number of missile tests.

The latest missile flew about 400 kilometres after being fired about 2:50am local time on Sunday from the Ryongsong area of the capital Pyongyang, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

"We strongly condemn North Korea's series of missile tests which are grave provocations that hurt peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the international community," the JCS said, urging Pyongyang to stop them immediately.

Japan's coast guard said the missile reached an altitude of around 100 km and flew around 350 km before landing outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. 218