Story from Adele Wilson and Mari Yamaguchi
Residents living near U.S. military bases in Japan are facing a fresh reality:
Their neighborhoods are on the front-line 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 in
western Tokyo. “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
North Korea has yet to meet its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile
that can reach the U.S. mainland, but analysts believe its current arsenal is
capable of striking the 50,000 U.S. troops stationed across Japan. The
government raised caution levels in March after Pyongyang said four
ballistic missiles that landed a few hundred kilometers off Japan’s coast
were meant to simulate a nuclear strike on U.S. bases here.
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
realistic option, it’s largely business as usual in Fussa, a town of 58,000.
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