14:44 GMT +320 November 2017
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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 7, 2017.

    Japan Conducts First-Ever Emergency Drill Amid North Korean Missile Threat

    © REUTERS/ KCNA
    Asia & Pacific
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    In anticipation for a missile attack from North Korea, Japan executed its first civilian evacuation drill on Friday, with warnings broadcast over loudspeakers and blaring sirens.

    Tokyo makes these preparations in response to four ballistic missiles launched from the North over a week ago, with one landing about 124 miles from the town of Oga near Japan’s northwestern coast. 

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile launch "an extremely dangerous action."

    About 110 residents played out a scenario where a missile launched from “Nation X” fell into waters near Akita, and focused on quick evacuation and transference of information. City and prefectural governments hosted the exercises.

    Using the J-Alert emergency advisory system, local municipalities received information from central government, the same procedure used for natural disasters.

    The speakers trumpeted the message, "The missile is seen to have landed within a 20-km (12-mile) boundary west of the Oga peninsula…The government is currently examining the damage." Residents also received messages on their smartphones and other personal devices. 

    People living in the rural areas north of Tokyo moved into an evacuation center that supplied protective gear and emergency kits. In another part of town 44 schoolchildren crouched down before moving into a gymnasium as part of the exercise.

    Hideo Motokawa, 73, said he was aware of increasing tensions in the region but didn’t expect the drill, saying "I've seen missiles flying between foreign countries on television, but I never imagined this would happen to us."

    Security supervisor Osamu Saito, who works in Akita prefecture which encompasses Oga, said, "Anything can happen these days, and it's even more true when we cannot anticipate the behavior of our neighboring countries." 

    Once again defying sanctions from the United Nations Security Council and international calls for denuclearization, Pyongyang continues conducting nuclear tests and is developing nuclear-tipped missiles. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described this activity as an "ever-escalating threat," during a recent visit to Japan.

    On Friday Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, told reporters that the public would benefit from the exercise, making them prepared for an emergency.

    Oga resident Emiko Shinzoya, a 73-year-old drill participant said, "It's a scary thing…If it did actually happen, I don't think we can do what we practiced today. We'll just be panicked."

    Tokyo has also launched an advanced surveillance satellite to keep an eye on Pyongyang. Suga explained,  "The four missiles flew roughly 1,000km in an easterly direction, and if you draw a 1,000km semi-circle from the centre of North Korea, it means western Japan is in range. North Korea’s missiles are now a real threat.," according to the Express.

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    Tags:
    drill, emergency situation, North Korea missile launch, ballistic missile launches, ballistic missiles, Shinzo Abe, Kim Jong-un, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), Japan
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