Japanese schools hold drills on missile response

Elementary school pupils taking part in an evacuation drill for a simulated North Korean missile attack in Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture in June.
Elementary school pupils taking part in an evacuation drill for a simulated North Korean missile attack in Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture in June.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO • Spooked by two missiles that flew over Japan in just over two weeks, schools are scrambling to find ways to help their students seek shelter should North Korea lob a missile in the direction of Japan during school hours.

Currently, the authorities have no concrete instructions about what to do in case of a missile launch, but the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry plans to fix that by revising its handbook for risk management manuals, according to The Japan News.

North Korea fired a missile last Friday over Japan as students made their way to school.

It followed the launch of a missile on Aug 29 that North Korea said had "crossed the sky above Oshima peninsula of Hokkaido and Cape Erimo of Japan".

The second launch drove one school in the coastal Ibaraki prefecture north-east of Tokyo to cancel classes, and 222 schools in 12 prefectures, including Hokkaido, Aomori and Iwate, to delay the start of classes, according to the ministry.

Some schools have already held drills on missile emergency response, The Japan News reported.

An elementary school in Chiyoda ward, Tokyo, held its first such drill on the morning of Sept 8, which saw children donning protective hoods and squatting in hallways.

"It'd be scary if a missile really came," a 10-year-old fifth grade boy said anxiously.

Without clear guidelines on where to hide during a missile launch, the school decided that places such as hallways with no windows would be safe places to seek shelter.

Separately, the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) reportedly plans to set up its first shooting range on the disputed Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, according to sources.

The uninhabited territory is controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, which calls it Diaoyu.

JCG plans to conduct "training simulations for detaining crews of Chinese fishing boats who have intruded into Japan's territorial waters", The Japan News reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2017, with the headline 'Japanese schools hold drills on missile response'. Print Edition | Subscribe