TOKEO — The Liberal Democratic Party gave Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a proposal Thursday to change the way the government protects Japanese nationals — both those at home and those living in South Korea — in the event of ballistic missile launches by North Korea.
The LDP plan calls on the government to work more closely with airlines and shipping companies to plan for a potential evacuation of Japanese nationals living in or visiting South Korea.
It also calls for new shelters to be built in Japan, and to carry out evacuation drills making use of underground facilities in densely populated areas.
The plan also proposes that the government set up a television advertising campaign to let the public know what to do in the event of the launch of a missile that could threaten Japanese territory.
Abe, who is also the ruling party’s president, said the government will handle the proposal “thoroughly.”
“With (North Korea) continuing to ignore warnings from the international community and fire (missiles), we want to do all we can to protect the lives of the public,” Abe said.
Earlier Thursday, North Korea fired a number of suspected surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its eastern coast into the Sea of Japan. Tokyo did not protest this move, saying it had no immediate impact on national security, but reiterated its condemnation of Pyongyang’s tests of ballistic missiles, the most recent of which was on May 29.
Last month, the government revised the messages to be issued through its satellite-based J-Alert public warning system if North Korea launches a ballistic missile that could hit Japan.
The initial message, which previously stated only that a missile launch has been detected, now warns people in at-risk areas to take shelter in robust buildings or underground.
Government officials said the change reflects estimates that North Korean missiles launched at Japan would take only a few minutes to reach their targets.