Japan holds 1st evacuation drill on N. Korea missile launch scenario

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Japan held its first evacuation drill on Friday for residents in the northern city of Oga, Akita Prefecture, based on the scenario that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile which landed in Japanese waters.

The drill came as North Korea continues to be provocative in advancing its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, having repeatedly carried out missile launches since last year. The latest test-firing of ballistic missiles took place earlier this month.

The drill, conducted on the premise of a ballistic missile dropping within Japanese waters off Akita, is aimed at promptly relaying information and facilitating the swift and safe evacuation of residents.

In the exercise, hosted by the prefectural and city governments, local officials urged 110 residents and other drill participants in a district in Oga, facing the sea, to evacuate to a public hall and elementary school.

The central government relayed emergency information to the local governments partly through the J-Alert emergency advisory service, which is also used in the event of disasters.

The city then used its wireless system to broadcast the received information through speakers and inform residents, who pre-registered for such information, through their smartphones and other communication tools.

While the central government has been carrying out drills to relay news alerts to municipalities using the J-Alert system, it is the first time residents have taken part in an evacuation drill.

At a local elementary school, 44 pupils who were in the school grounds rushed to the gymnasium following the city's broadcast.

Shin Kikuchi, the school's principal, expressed hope that relevant information will be relayed smoothly by the central and prefectural governments, as the students only have the authorities to rely on for such details.

On March 6, North Korea simultaneously fired four ballistic missiles, three of which landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone. Japan estimates that one of the missiles fell into the sea at distances of around 200 kilometers off Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture.

==Kyodo

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