The first missile evacuation drill was held in Tokyo on Monday with participants taking cover in underground spaces and subway stations. The spaces would be used as shelters in the Japanese capital if a North Korean missile hit the country.
Around 300 volunteers participated in the choreographed evacuations at a fairground and park ringing the Tokyo Dome baseball stadium. The police scuffled with small groups of protesters as they protested against what they termed as war game that only served to increase fear amongst Japanese citizens.
This comes amongst hopes that South Korea will take advantage of next month’s Winter Olympics that will take place in South Korea. The neighboring country has the opportunity to defuse tension in the region.
According to Tokyo the threat being posed by North Korea is increasing deepening with its development of the ballistic missiles
“A missile from North Korea would arrive in less than 10 minutes and the first alert would come about three minutes after launch, which gives us only around five minutes to find shelter,” Hiroyuku Suenaga, a Japanese government official, told volunteers after the Tokyo exercise.
There are other small Japanese towns that have also conducted drills as North Korea won’t hesitate on implementing its missile and nuclear programs. The most recent and biggest nuclear bomb test was conducted by North Korea in September as it continues to test dozens of ballistic missiles. In November we saw the missile test reach an altitude of about 4,475 km (2,780 miles) and flew 950 km (590 miles), passing over Japan before splashing into waters in Japan.
On the other hand, North Korea claims that its weapons are a necessary defense against a possible U.S. invasion. A false launch alarm was issued by Japan public broadcaster NHK urging people seek shelter six days ago.
“I am not that worried about North Korea if something happened that would be frightening,” said Hidenobu Kondo, one of the volunteer evacuees. However, the 50-year-old company employee said the drill would not be of much use in the event of a real attack.
“If I was at work it might be easy to evacuate, but if I was outside somewhere it would be more difficult,” Kondo said.
The defenses that Japan has set up against a ballistic missile strike include Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan armed with interceptor missiles designed to destroy warheads in space. PAC-3 Patriot missile batteries represent the last line of defense against warheads that can plunge to their targets at several kilometers per second. The country has also decided to purchase two land-based Aegis batteries and cruise missiles that could strike North Korea.