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North Korean Missile Launch Strikes Fear and Confusion in Japan

This week, a North Korean missile caused panic and confusion in Northern Japan. In Hokkaido, millions of Japanese citizens received evacuation orders via J-alerts ordering them to seek shelter or flee, as a launched Korean missile was estimated to land near or on the island. Shortly after the alerts were relayed, the order was retracted; according to the Japanese government, the messages were accidental, and later Tokyo officials confirmed the missile had dropped outside of Japanese territory on the east coast of the Korean Peninsula. Needless to say, the Japanese citizens were less than pleased with the flurry of information and confusion.


Online, many criticized the J-Alert and its functionality in times of crisis. Some claimed that the J-Alerts were ineffective in relaying the proper information needed while others stated that even if the missile was estimated to land on Japanese territory, the alert gave little to no time for citizens to take action in order to secure their safety.


In a press conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno stated that the alert the government issued was “appropriate” based on the limited information available during the crisis. However, Matsuno also admitted that the government did not “correct the information issued by the J-Alert.”


Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the J-Alerts have misinformed Japanese citizens due to a similar cause. Last October, a J-alert was mistakenly sent to inhabitants of Tokyo’s island towns regarding a ballistic missile launched by North Korea. This missile did not pass over the communities that received the alerts and citizens were again confused by the alert.


The Chief Cabinet Secretary claimed that the missile launch was “an outrageous act that escalates provocations against the entire international community.” Matsuno also stated that “North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated launches of ballistic missiles, is a threat to Japan, the region, and the world.”


Outside of Asia, criticism was voiced by the White House in regard to the missile launch. Echoing Japanese sentiments, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson claimed that the missile launch “…is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions and needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region.” Furthermore, the U.S. assured its Japanese allies that they plan on securing and keeping safe both Japan and the U.S. homeland from threats such as these.

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