Ja­pan holds first-ever N. Korean bal­lis­tic mis­sile at­tack civil­ian evac­u­a­tion drill

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION -

On Fri­day, Ja­pan staged its first ever civil­ian evac­u­a­tion drill for the con­tin­gency of a North Korean bal­lis­tic mis­sile strike. The ex­er­cise comes after Ja­pan strongly con­demned North Korea’s lat­est launch of four ER-Scud bal­lis­tic mis­siles into the Sea of Ja­pan, three of which landed in Ja­pan’s ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone.

Last year, for the first time ever, a North Korea Nodong launch splashed down within Ja­pan’s EEZ as well.

The drill on Fri­day be­gan with loud­speaker broad­casts and siren warn­ings sig­nal­ing a bal­lis­tic mis­sile launch.

The Ja­panese gov­ern­ment is us­ing its na­tion­wide J-Alert civil­ian warn­ing sys­tem, which is also de­ployed in case of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters — a com­mon oc­cur­rence in the earth­quake-prone coun­try — to warn civil­ians of an in­com­ing North Korean at­tack.

Ac­cord­ing to Reuters, Ja­panese au­thor­i­ties is­sued warn­ings of a sim­u­lated at­tack over loud­speaker.

“The mis­sile is seen to have landed within a 20 kilo­me­ter bound­ary west of the Oga penin­sula,” the alert sys­tem noted over loud­speaker. “The gov­ern­ment is cur­rently ex­am­in­ing the dam­age.”

Anal­y­sis of the lat­est North Korean ER-Scud salvo launch sug­gests that Py­ongyang is not test­ing its mis­sile tech­nol­ogy, but training for a po­ten­tial wartime first strike against U.S. as­sets in Ja­pan.

Jef­frey Lewis, writ­ing in For­eign Pol­icy, noted a map pub­lished by North Korea after the test showed “all four mis­siles land­ing on an arc that stretched down to the Marine Corps Air Sta­tion near Iwakuni, Ja­pan.”

Ja­pan has been an­tic­i­pat­ing the prospect of a North Korea first­strike for some time now.

It de­cided to hold civil­ian evac­u­a­tion drills in Jan­uary this year, as I dis­cussed in The Diplo­mat.

Among other de­fen­sive moves, Tokyo has con­sid­ered an open-ended bal­lis­tic mis­sile in­ter­cept or­der for its armed forces.

Ja­pan ad­di­tion­ally con­tin­ues to share in­tel­li­gence with the United States and South Korea about North Korean bal­lis­tic mis­sile launches and co­or­di­nates tri­lat­er­ally on mis­sile de­fense ex­er­cises.

In 2016, North Korea staged 24 bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests and two un­der­ground ex­plo­sions of nu­clear de­vices. This un­prece­dented level of ac­tiv­ity has sharply driven threat per­cep­tions in Ja­pan in the past year.

Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe has said the threat from North Korea is “in­tol­er­a­ble” and “out­ra­geous,” call­ing on North Korea to com­ply with ex­ist­ing UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil sanc­tions and cease its weapons pro­gram.

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