Govt to Dispatch Human Resources with Evacuation Drill Expertise; North Korea Missile Launches Shows Need for Drills

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Residents are seen during a drill simulating an evacuation during a ballistic missile launch in Yonaguni, Okinawa Prefecture, in November 2022.

The Japanese government will create a system to dispatch human resources with expertise in evacuation drills to local governments amid North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, it has been learned.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will launch such measures next fiscal year to strengthen local governments’ civil protection systems.

Some local governments in Japan have staff members who have long been engaged in civil protection tasks to evacuate residents by simulating emergencies such as missile launches and terrorist attacks involving explosives. The agency is considering dispatching such employees and former employees to other municipalities as civil protection drill partners. The dispatched personnel would provide guidance and advice to the municipalities that are building a system for civil protection drills which would be conducted jointly by municipalities and other entities.

The agency is also considering measures to help local governments put together a manual for emergency evacuations, which the government requires to be prepared, by sending experienced officials from other municipalities to act as advisors.

Additionally, a collection of successful examples of resident evacuation drills will be compiled to share knowledge and know-how among local governments across the country and improve their standards of training. The agency plans to include in the collection an example of a local government that was able to carry out training quickly. A missile’s arrival time to Japan if launched from North Korea is estimated to be about 10 minutes after launch. It will also include an example of a local government that was able to conduct training smoothly, including for elderly people and those with disabilities who have difficulty evacuating on their own.

As North Korea has been launching ballistic missiles with unprecedented frequency, an increasing number of local governments believe that resident evacuation drills are necessary. Since fiscal 2016, central and local governments have jointly conducted evacuation drills simulating a ballistic missile launch. Only one drill was conducted in fiscal 2016, but the number increased to 12 in fiscal 2022. This fiscal year, 39 drills have been or plan to be conducted over 23 prefectures.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency believes that the needs for evacuation drills will continue to increase because of the frequency of missile launches. According to the Defense Ministry, Pyongyang launched 59 ballistic missiles in 2022 and the figure has already reached 22 this year.