Fear of a North Korean nuclear attack appears to have spread to the Japanese capital, as Tokyo held its first missile evacuation drill Monday.
“We have information that a missile launch has occurred,” a loudspeaker blared. “Please evacuate calmly inside a building or underground.” Hundreds of local residents ran for cover inside reinforced concrete buildings and subway stations. A few minutes later, a second announcement revealed that the “missile passed” overhead and landed in the Pacific, according to AFP.
Similar drills have been held in other locations across Japan over the past year, during which North Korea twice shot intermediate-range missiles over northern Japan, according to Kyodo News Agency.
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In addition to sending missiles soaring over Japan, North Korea has also repeatedly threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea. Were North Korea to fire a missile at Japan, the people would have somewhere between five to ten minutes to find shelter.
“A missile from North Korea would arrive in less than 10 minutes and the first alert would come about three minutes after launch, which gives us only around five minutes to find shelter,” Hiroyuku Suenaga, a Japanese government official, told volunteers, according to Reuters.
Reviews of the drills are mixed, with some arguing that regular exercises increase preparedness and others countering with the argument that such drills are useless and make war more likely.
One of the arguments against the J-alert system is the possibility of false alarms, like those recently sent outby the Japan’s national public broadcaster NHK and Hawaii’s emergency management team.
Japan’s missile defense systems include several Aegis destroyers operating in the East Sea/Sea of Japan and PAC-3 systems. The country has also purchased Aegis Ashore, a land-based variant of the sea-based defense system.
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