N Korea missile fears in Japan: 'Whatever will be, will be'
Residents living near US military bases in Japan are facing a fresh reality: Their neighborhoods are on the frontline of North Korea's dispute with America and if Pyongyang were to attack, they would have just minutes to shelter from incoming missiles.
"It's impossible. There is no way we can run away from it," said Seijiro Kurosawa, a 58-year-old taxi driver in Fussa, near Yokota Air Base. "We don't have bunkers, shelters or anything like that." His company recently instructed drivers to park their cabs and take immediate refuge in the event of an attack, but he isn't sure where he could go.
"All we can do is run into a department store perhaps," he said. A possible missile strike and what to do about it have dominated TV talk shows and other media in Japan in recent weeks as regional tension has spiked, with the North Korean regime continuing to test-fire rockets and President Donald Trump sending an aircraft carrier to nearby waters in a show of force.
North Korea has yet to reach its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile that can reach the US mainland, but its current arsenal is capable of striking the 50,000 US troops stationed across Japan. The government raised caution levels in March after Pyongyang said four ballistic missiles that landed a few hundred kilometers (miles) off Japan's coast were meant to simulate a nuclear strike on USbases there.
While Japanese tabloids and television programs have reported on nuclear shelters ordered by a handful of rich people or touted gas masks as a more affordable option, it's largely business as usual in Fussa, a town of 58,000 people in Tokyo's western suburbs.
"Whatever will be, will be," said 34-year-old Jumpei Takemiya, who runs a shoe repair shop across from Yokota Air Base. "Just think calmly about it. Is Yokota really going to be the first one to be hit? I doubt it, and frankly I'm not so nervous," he said.
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