TOKYO — North Korea might be talking about building missiles that can reach the United States, but Kim Jong Un’s regime already has lots of missiles that can reach Japan. So the Japanese government is preparing its citizens in case a missile comes their way, possibly with less than 10 minutes’ warning.
The prime minister’s office issued new “actions to protect yourself” guidelines this week, including for the first time instructions on how to respond if a North Korean ballistic missile is heading toward Japan.
Three of the four missiles that North Korea launched March 6 fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the body of water that separates Japan and the Korean Peninsula. North Korea later said that it was practicing to hit U.S. military bases in Japan.
North Korea showed almost two decades ago that it has all of Japan in its reach. In 1998, North Korea fired a Taepodong-1 missile — ostensibly for launching a satellite over Japan and into its economic zone on the Pacific Ocean side.
As North Korea has issued threats and paraded missiles this month, Japan’s official civil defense website has had 5.7 million visitors in the first 23 days of April compared with usual monthly traffic of less than 400,000 hits.