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Japan holds evacuation drills amid N. Korean missile threat

  • June 4, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 3:58 p.m.
  • English Press

A western Japan town and a southwestern Japan city conducted evacuation drills for residents on Sunday following recent ballistic missiles launches by North Korea.


Around 280 residents took part in the drill in Abu in Yamaguchi Prefecture in the western Chugoku region, while 200 participated in the exercise in Onojo in Fukuoka Prefecture in the southwestern Kyushu region.


The drills, the first to be held in the two regions, followed one in Akita Prefecture in the northern Tohoku region in March.


In the exercise organized by the central and prefectural governments in Abu, residents evacuated to designated solid buildings such as the municipal office or a gymnasium or remained in their homes after hearing an emergency broadcast stating, “There seems to have been a missile launch.”


Ryoko Suemasu, 41, fled to the gymnasium with her 6-year-old daughter. “I could evacuate smoothly but as the broadcast’s volume was low, it was hard to hear and I’m still worried,” she said.


In the city-organized drill at an elementary school in Onojo, sirens of the J-Alert emergency advisory service and evacuation orders were broadcast, based on the scenario of a missile falling in Japanese waters a few minutes after launch.


The residents taking part either fled into the school building or found a place to hide by themselves, such as near a warehouse.


Hiroko Takahashi, 41, who participated in the exercise with her two children, said, “It’s possible the children will not be close by (at the time of an emergency). I don’t know which to prioritize, to confirm their whereabouts or to evacuate.”


The drills came as North Korea shows no signs of abandoning its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, having repeatedly carried out missile launches since last year.


Most recently, a missile splashed into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, stretching 200 nautical miles or around 370 kilometers from the country’s coast, on May 29, the third missile launch in as many weeks.


Similar drills will also be held in other parts of Japan, including Yamagata and Niigata prefectures, on the Sea of Japan coast on June 9 and 12, respectively.

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