North Korea: Japan conducts evacuation drills amid nuclear missile threat

North Korea: Japan conducts evacuation drills amid nuclear missile threat

North Korea: Japan conducts evacuation drills amid nuclear missile threat

Updated 20 August 2017, 13:35 AEST

In Japan's sleepy coastal town of Kotoura, which sits within the flight path of any North Korean missiles heading towards the United States territory of Guam, residents young and old prepare to face the looming threat of North Korea's missiles.

The coach of the Kotoura junior baseball team was hitting ground balls to his young charges when the missile warning went off, the siren pulsating out of grey speakers.

The well-drilled players huddled in the shade for a moment as the coach counted heads and then they jogged to a nearby government office.

The Kotoura juniors knew the drill was coming but running for shelter still caught their young imaginations.

"Even if it's a drill, I feel scared thinking that broken pieces of glass could fly towards me," Aren Arifuku said.

The team spent about 10 minutes kneeling with their hands over their heads.

"I felt frightened, you never know when it [a North Korean missile] will be fired and our life becomes unstable," said fellow player Koki Ishida.

Being a sporting man, coach Masafumi Ishida naturally had some statistics to share about the baseball players' performance.

"As for a score, I'd like to give them 80 points," Mr Ishida said.

"The children responded to the leader's voice well and they were able to gather immediately when they were told to," he told the ABC.

Kotoura is a sleepy coastal town in Tottori prefecture, on Japan's west coast.

Looking out from its famed sand dunes, North Korea lies beyond the horizon.

Tottori prefecture is close to the likely flight path of any North Korean missiles heading towards the United States territory of Guam.

Its local government is particularly active in holding emergency drills.

"[Even] when there's a little chance, what can we do?" asked Kotoura mayor Ichiro Yamashita.

"We can only do something simple like going inside a building, but I think it's important and meaningful to share information, and have awareness of the issue.

"I think it went well — the drill was only about 15minutes, but people took it seriously," he said.

US top brass visits Japan

Japan and the US are poised to try to shoot down any North Korean missiles, although success is by no means guaranteed.

On Saturday, America's highest-ranking soldier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, visited Japan, meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The new US Ambassador to Tokyo also met the Prime Minister, saying when it came to North Korea, the two nations were in lock step.

"I think the Prime Minister [Shinzo Abe] and President Trump see the situation identically," ambassador William Hagety said.

It is only the ambassador's second day on the job and a slip of the tongue had him name the wrong Korea.

"We are working together very closely, and we are examining every option that we have to contain the regime in South Korea to bring the dialogue down, to get to a reasonable discussion level and to calm the rhetoric," he said.

Over in Pyongyang, there was no more colourful rhetoric from leader Kim Jong-un, but some of the party faithful went about their work designing new propaganda posters.

Pak Chol Hyon is a graphic designer for the state publishing house and spoke to North Korea's state news agency, KCNA, about his latest creations — two posters saying "Strongly condemn" and "Totally reject".

"I emphasised two hands [on this poster] to express our people's strong will condemning and rejecting the [latest UN Security Council's] sanctions resolution [against North Korea]," Pak Chol Hyon said.

In July, North Korea test fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Soon afterwards, the United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea that could slash by a third the Asian state's $3 billion annual export revenue.

When Pyongyang tests missiles, they often end up falling into the Sea of Japan.

On the other side of that body of water, Japanese tourists visit the Tottori sand dunes, puffing their way up the impressive slopes of Japan's only mini-desert.

On the sandy hilltop above the beach, several Japanese sit quietly and look out at the horizon, perhaps contemplating their hostile neighbour across the water.