In light of North Korea’s repeated missile tests, the Fisheries Agency plans to install a new automated alert system that directly notifies fishing vessels of missile launches, agency officials said Friday.
The Cabinet Secretariat usually informs the agency about North Korean missile launches by email, after which the agency sends the information to various wireless stations where staff members nationwide read out the alerts.
But at times, the information goes nowhere when nobody is manning the stations.
Another concern is the email alerts could also be overlooked. So the agency has been looking for ways to ensure the crucial information gets conveyed faster and with more certainty.
Under the new automated voice system, to be introduced possibly in fiscal 2018, the alerts will be sent in just a few minutes.
The costs of the project were reflected in the agency’s budget request for fiscal 2018, which starts from April next year, according to the officials.
The agency said there are about 150,000 fishing vessels in Japan and that 110,000 of them operate mostly in waters close to shore.
Although there are ways to issue the warnings through the satellite-based J-Alert system, it cannot contact those who leave coastal waters where cellphone signals do not reach.
Last week, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile that crossed over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.
Pyongyang has repeatedly defied international warnings against such tests, including two intercontinental ballistic missile tests conducted over the past year.