TOKYO, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Tokyo held its first missile evacuation drill on Monday with volunteers taking cowl in subway stations and different underground areas that will double as shelters for the Japanese capital within the occasion of a North Korean missile strike.
The choreographed evacuations at a good floor and park ringing the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium concerned round 300 volunteers.
Small teams of protesters scuffled with police as they demonstrated in opposition to what they criticized as a struggle recreation that fanned public concern.
Whereas hope grows that North Korea’s participation in subsequent month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea could assist defuse pressure within the area, Japan is escalating efforts to organize its residents for a potential struggle.
Tokyo believes the risk posed by Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons growth is deepening.
“A missile from North Korea would arrive in lower than 10 minutes and the primary alert would come about three minutes after launch, which provides us solely round 5 minutes to search out shelter,” Hiroyuku Suenaga, a Japanese authorities official, instructed volunteers after the Tokyo train.
Small Japanese cities and villages have performed comparable drills as North Korea has pushed forward with its missile and nuclear weapons applications.
North Korea performed its most up-to-date and largest nuclear bomb check in September and has examined dozens of ballistic missiles. The most recent missile check in November reached an altitude of about four,475 km (2,780 miles) and flew 950 km (590 miles), passing over Japan earlier than splashing into waters in Japan’s unique financial zone.
Pyongyang says its weapons applications are a crucial protection in opposition to a potential U.S. invasion.
Amid public concern over the potential for extra missile launches, Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued a false launch alarm urging individuals to take shelter six days in the past. That got here days after an identical false alert induced panic throughout Hawaii.
“I’m not that apprehensive about North Korea, if one thing occurred that will be scary,” stated Hidenobu Kondo, one of many volunteer evacuees. Nonetheless, the 50-year-old firm worker stated the drill wouldn’t be of a lot use within the occasion of actual assault.
“If I used to be at work it is likely to be straightforward to evacuate, however If I used to be outdoors someplace it could be tougher,” Kondo stated.
Japan’s defenses in opposition to a ballistic missile strike embrace Aegis destroyers within the Sea of Japan armed with interceptor missiles designed to destroy warheads in area. PAC-Three Patriot missile batteries characterize a final line of protection in opposition to warheads that may plunge to their targets at a number of kilometers per second.
Japan has additionally determined to purchase two land-based Aegis batteries and cruise missiles that would strike North Korean missile websites.
(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Modifying by Paul Tait)