Japan tells citizens they can only expect 10-minute warning of a North Korea missile attack

A North Korean navy truck carries a ballistic missile during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017.
A North Korean navy truck carries a ballistic missile during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. Reuters/Damir Sagolj

Government officials in Tokyo admitted this week that if a missile launch is detected from North Korea, citizens in the targeted area would only get about a 10-minute warning to flee the impact zone, according to English language newspaper The Japan Times.

Officials are urging local communities to hold evacuation drills.

The disclosure comes as the country’s Cabinet Secretariat Civil Protection Portal Site, an emergency preparedness website, has seen a spike in web traffic for the month of April.

According to the Times, the website has seen a surge to about 2.6 million views this month compared to roughly 450,000 in March.

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The website features a 32-page emergency response pamphlet about how the public would be notified and what to do in case of various emergency scenarios including “ballistic missile attack, aerial intrusion and a landing invasion.”

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For a missile attack the pamphlet notes that “it is extremely difficult to be able to pinpoint missile landing areas before their launch. The missile is expected to land in a short period of time. Therefore, a warning will be issued to the effect that a launch of a ballistic missile is imminent and the content of the warning will be communicated via TV and radio etc.”

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“Evacuate indoors during the initial phase of the attack and then evacuate appropriately following instructions given by administrative agencies,” reads the emergency response pamphlet. “In case of evacuating indoors, evacuate to a robust building or underground shopping arcade nearby.”

According to the Japanese newspaper, 70 disaster and crisis officials from communities around the country were asked to make additional plans by creating a response team in the event of a North Korean missile launch.

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Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura admitted even though a plan is in place, there wouldn’t be much time to respond.

“A missile may not be detected as soon as it leaves the launch pad . . . and that could take several minutes. Depending on the case, the warnings and alarms might only sound four or five minutes before a missile arrives,” the newspaper quoted the mayor as saying.

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Japan has an emergency broadcast system which alerts citizens through sirens, TV and radio broadcasts in the potential disaster areas alerting what action the members of the public should take.

Tensions surrounding North Korea’s weapons program have mounted as the country warned the U.S. it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might.

The United States ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to mounting concerns over the reclusive state’s nuclear and missile programs.

According to a Reuters report, sales of nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers have also spike in Japan over the recent weeks.

A small company that specializes in building nuclear shelters, generally under people’s houses, has received eight orders in April alone compared with six orders during a typical year.

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The company, Oribe Seiki Seisakusho, based in Kobe, also has sold out of 50 Swiss-made air purifiers, which are said to keep out radiation and poisonous gas, and is trying to get more, said Nobuko Oribe, the company’s director.

with files from Reuters

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