About 500 miles from Pyongyang, residents in the tiny western Japanese village of Abu have, on Tokyo's recommendation, begun holding evacuation drills, training themselves to hunker down at a signal, in the event that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) makes good on its continual threat to fire off nuclear weapons at its numerous enemies, real and imagined.
Japanese children and their parents, grandparents and other village dwellers, after hearing the singsong siren alert, quickly congregated at the school gymnasium in the coastal village, assembling everyone in a remarkable three minutes, while town elders made a head count.
Locals commented on the new directives, with one 10-year-old student remarking that the siren "rang all of a sudden while we were picking grass, so that scared me," according to Deutsche Welle.
An aboveground gymnasium may not provide adequate protection from a nuclear warhead delivered by a ballistic missile, according to one local parent, who observed that while the drill "didn't feel very realistic, it was a good way to understand how to evacuate."
Located on the southwest coast of Japan, Abu is close to the Korean Peninsula. Military observers calculate about 10 minutes for a missile launched by Pyongyang to strike the Japanese coast — a figure that does not account for several minutes that would be required by the government to become aware of the attack and to initiate the alert system.
The DPRK claim that its weapons development plan is necessary.
"We will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces," Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry declared in a statement cited by DW.com, as the country declared that it "will move forward towards the final victory."
Although decried by the entire global community, ballistic missile tests by the DPRK continue, with at least twelve launched since January, most falling into the Sea of Japan. The missiles and Pyongyang's expanded underground nuclear weapons detonations have created a quiet panic in the region.
Government officials in Japan have published a series of protective measures that citizens should take in the event of a missile strike by the DPRK, suggesting that residents quickly "take shelter in a robust building nearby," "move away from windows or, if possible, move to a room without windows," cited by DW.com.
In a stark reminder of another war, most of the western Japanese towns and prefectures, including nearby Fukuoka, have been urged by Tokyo to create similar alert systems to that in use in Abu.