• Kyodo


Fishermen operating off Hokkaido expressed anger and fear Saturday after a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile landed in nearby waters overnight.

“We can’t lower our guard as we don’t know when they will launch,” said 83-year-old sea urchin fisher Takashi Tobuyama. “But we can’t keep looking up while we are fishing.”

Tobuyama was fishing near Okushiri Island, about 18 km off Hokkaido and around 150 km from where the missile landed. Fishing is the residents’ main source of income.

The missile, launched shortly before midnight, covered about 1,000 km in around 45 minutes and reached an altitude of more than 3,500 km.

Government officials said the missile was launched without prior notification and fell within Japan’s exclusive economic zone, adding that no damage to vessels or aircraft was reported.

“It’s scary as it seems the traveling distance has been extended. If a missile falls on our island, there’s no way to escape,” said Kazuto Masuda, 78, another Okushiri fisherman.

“We are troubled by bad catches and don’t have time to think about missiles,” an official from a local fisheries cooperative association said. “It’s a nuisance.”

Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi called the launch alarming. “We cannot tolerate it at all,” she said.

Okushiri Mayor Takami Shimmura said residents worry whenever the North tests a missile.

“We want the central government to deal with this by pressuring North Korea,” Shimmura said.

According to the Aomori Prefectural Government, nine boats from the prefecture that had been fishing for squid during the launch were confirmed safe.

“We managed to collect information in a calm manner as we had been told that a missile could be fired,” a government official said.

In Ibaraki Prefecture meanwhile, around 200 people took part in an evacuation drill Saturday in Ryugasaki. At around 10 a.m., residents were ordered to evacuate after a siren and took shelter in school gymnasiums and similar buildings.

“I’m scared as we don’t know where a missile will fall,” said Hatsui Kurata, 73. “I took it seriously as there was a launch just before the drill.”

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