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Japan Suspends Missile Evacuation Drills As New Calm Settles Over Korea

KCNA via REUTERS

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

Japan is scrapping missile evacuation drills as a welcome peace settles over the Korean Peninsula, Japan’s Kyodo News Agency reported Thursday.

At least nine prefectures have canceled missile evacuation drills at the request of the Japanese government. After the landmark U.S.-North Korea leadership summit in Singapore earlier in June, a senior government spokesman announced that the ballistic missile threat to Japan has been eliminated.

“The situation is different from last year when missile launches were frequent and it is not a situation where missiles will soon come flying,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference. On his return home from the Singapore summit, the U.S. president tweeted that “there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” (RELATED: Trump Declares End To North Korean ‘Nuclear Threat’)

North Korea tested nearly two dozen ballistic missiles last year, with many landing just off the coast of Japan. In two cases, the North fired intermediate-range ballistic missiles over Japanese territory, setting off alarms. (RELATED: North Korea Fires Another Ballistic Missile Over Japan)

Evacuation drills were held in cities and towns across Japan last year, and Tokyo held its first missile evacuation drill in January of this year. (RELATED: Tokyo Preps For Nuclear Destruction At The Hands Of North Korea In First Missile Evacuation Drill)

But, it has been about seven months since North Korea’s last missile test. At the start of the year, North Korea turned its focus towards diplomacy, and since then, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has held meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, and U.S. President Donald Trump. North Korea has offered assurances that it will refrain from missile testing while dialogue and diplomacy are ongoing.

Japanese officials have been in touch with their North Korean counterparts about a possible meeting between Kim and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe later this year.

While Japan is suspending missile evacuation drills, the country is not letting its guard down, as Japan is still reportedly interested in acquiring Aegis Ashore missile defense batteries, which will better defend the island nation.

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