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Japanese town prepares for the worst

June 4, 2017

The residents of Abu, on Japan's west coast, started evacuation drills after the government asked local officials to prepare for a possible attack from North Korea. Pyongyang slammed the US and China over new sanctions.

Nordkoreanischer Raktetentest
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/KCNA via KNS/AP

About 280 people took part in Sunday's drill, with sirens sounding while a group children and their parents were cleaning up a field at the local elementary school.

The anti-missile alarm "rang all of a sudden while we were picking grass, so that scared me," 10-year-old Taison Ito said.

The small fishing town of Abu is located in southwest Japan, close to the Korean Peninsula. Experts estimate that it would take about 10 minutes for missiles to reach the coastal area from North Korea. However, it would also take several minutes for the government to detect the launch and alert the public.

During the drill, school officials instructed children to head evacuate to the school gymnasium, which they accomplished in about three minutes.

"It was a good way to understand how to evacuate," one of the parents said. "But again it didn't feel very realistic."

'Move away from the windows'

Despite protest from Japan and the rest of the international community, North Korea continues to test its missiles. It has launched about a dozen since the beginning of the year, with many of them falling in the Sea of Japan. The tests, combined with the country's nuclear program, have stoked fear in the region.

Japan's government has published a list of tips in case of a missile strike, including a recommendation to "take shelter in a robust building nearby" and "move away from windows or, if possible, move to a room without windows."

Government officials also instructed local authorities in different areas of Japan to hold drills similar to the one in Abu. Residents of the nearby Fukuoka conducted a drill last week, with others scheduled in the coming months. 

Pyongyang doubles down

On Sunday, Pyongyang announced that it "fully rejects" the latest sanctions passed by the United Nations on Friday, which targeted 18 North Korean officials and entities. 

"Whatever sanctions and pressure may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces, which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to  national existence and will move forward towards the final victory," North Korea's Foreign Ministry declared in a statement.

In another sign of a growing rift between Pyongyang and Beijing, North Korea criticized the United States and China for "railroading and enforcing" the resolution at the UN Security Council "after having drafted it in the backroom at their own pleasure."

dj/mkg (AP, Reuters)