On July 7, during a public assembly in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, was asked how his organization would respond to a North Korean missile attack. Tanaka replied that it would make more sense for North Korea to hit Tokyo with a missile than "drop it on a small (nuclear) reactor." Though meant as a joke, the comment was condemned by many, including the environmental minister, who is basically Tanaka's boss. Tanaka apologized.

In its July 11 edition, Tokyo Shimbun did not mention the remark, but it did reference the late journalist Yuyu Kiryu's similarly dismissive attitude toward civil defense schemes in 1933, in an article about a safety drill that took place in Saijo, Ehime Prefecture on July 10. The reporters related how sirens blared and students at an elementary school, who were outside at the time, immediately ran into the gymnasium, crouched on the floor and put their arms over their heads. At a community center, seniors were weeding the grounds. They, too, ran indoors. The whole thing lasted 10 minutes.

Tokyo Shimbun talked to participants and found that many, while understanding the purpose of the drills, didn't seem to think they would be effective in the event of a real North Korean missile attack. "There would be no perfectly safe place," one community organizer admitted. "And asking us to evacuate just causes confusion."