The central government plans to resume evacuation drills to prepare for possible ballistic missile launches by North Korea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno has said.

The government plans to conduct the drills around this summer, but the timing depends on the COVID-19 situation, Matsuno said Friday.

The drills were carried out in 29 local governments between March 2017 and June 2018 under the civil protection law. No such drills have since taken place amid signs of easing tensions over North Korea.

Pyongyang, however, has stepped up missile tests this year. Last month, it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan.

“The government is considering resuming evacuation drills as North Korea has been launching ballistic and other missiles frequently since the beginning of this year,” Matsuno told a news conference.

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