With North Korea continuing to fire ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, rural Japanese towns have been carrying out emergency disaster drills.
North Korea has been doing this for a while now, but these launches have spiked under Kim Jong-un.
Living here, it’s been surreal to watch and listen to news reports tracking the missiles in real time.
Earlier this year, a North Korean test missile landed approximately 124 miles from the Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture, making it the closest a North Korean missile had come to striking Japanese land.
With North Korean conducting more and more missile tests, there is obvious concern that one will hit Japan.
The guidelines are for “ballistic missiles” (弾道ミサイル or dandou misairu) and tell people who are outside to get into a sturdy structure or get underground. They also tell people to protect their heads and move away from windows.
I haven’t seen similar guidelines in Osaka (yet), nor have there been any ballistic missile disaster drills where I live. Also, none of my children’s schools have held these types of drills. They have, however, held the standard earthquake and fire ones.
The first ballistic missile disaster drills began in Akita Prefecture this past January. Akita Prefecture borders the Sea of Japan, so there is a possibility that it could be hit by a North Korean test missile.
In Japanese, disaster drills are called “hinan kunren” (避難訓練) and unless they’re at school or work, they’re typically optional. For example, your apartment building or neighborhood in Japan might have one, but not everyone participates because they might have work or other plans. However, when Japanese people think of “hinan kunren,” they usually think of earthquake drills and not ballistic missile ones.
This was a ballistic missile disaster drill in early June in Yamagata Prefecture, which also faces the Sea of Japan. As the BBC points out, these disaster drills have been happening more and more in areas on the Sea of Japan.
Such as in Yamaguchi Prefecture.
The first missile disaster drill held in the Kanto region was held in Ibaraki Prefecture late last month.
A hundred people gathered in this gym for a disaster drill.
Oita City in Kyushu, Japan also held a ballistic missile disaster drill in July, which will might remind you of the 1950’s American “duck and cover” drills.
Not everyone is convinced that such measures will help.
Perhaps for good reason.
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