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Posted by On 9:00 PM

Japan halts evacuation drills as North Korea tensions ease

TOKYO â€" Japan has decided to halt evacuation drills to prepare for a potential North Korean missile attack as tensions have eased following a historic summit between the leaders of the United States and North Korea, Kyodo news agency reported Thursday.

US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last week and Kim committed to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” while Trump said he would end what he called “provocative” US-South Korean military exercises.

Japan welcomed the summit as a first step toward the denuclearization of North Korea, but also said the US-South Korean exercises were a vital deterrent to North Korean threats.

North Korea last year launched two missiles that flew over Japan. It also conducted its sixth nuclear test. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga repeated that it was vital for Nort h Korea to take concrete steps toward complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all its weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

Suga noted, however, that North Korea has said it would not conduct tests and Kim had promised complete denuclearization.

“The situation is different from last year when missile launches were frequent and it is not a situation where missiles will soon come flying,” he told a news conference, adding that the matter of the drills was under consideration.

Japan is eyeing a meeting between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kim, government sources said a week ago, and Japanese media have reported that one possibility was for Abe to visit Pyongyang, perhaps as early as August.

Promoted to commander of the US Indo-Pacific Command last month, Adm. Philip Davidson gave an assurance that the United States was committed its alliance with Japan and to securing North Korea’s denuclearization during his first official visit to Japan for two days of talks with Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera.

Japan, which hosts some 50,000 US military personnel, including the biggest overseas concentration of US Marines and a US Navy carrier strike group, relies on Washington for its defense and operates closely with its military.

Japan’s capital, Tokyo, held its first evacuation drill in January and smaller Japanese towns and villages have conducted similar exercises as North Korea pushed ahead with its missile and nuclear weapons programs.

Kyodo said there were plans for evacuation drills this year in nine prefectures.

An official in Yaita, in northern Japan, told Reuters that Tochigi prefecture, where it is located, had notified the city that the central government had decided to halt the planned drill “taking into account the international situation.”

Kyodo said several other prefectures had also been notified of the imminent decision to halt the drills.

Source: Google News Japan | Netizen 24 Japan

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Posted by On 8:13 PM

Japan Is Canceling Evacuation Drills Meant to Prepare Civilians for North Korean Missiles

(TOKYO) â€" Japan plans to suspend the civilian evacuation drills it started last year while North Korea was repeatedly test-firing missiles near and over Japanese islands, officials said Thursday, citing diplomatic overtures from Pyongyang.

Nine drills to prepare residents in Japan for possible missile attacks were to be held later this year.

The Cabinet Secretariat in charge of crisis management said the official announcement of the suspension was expected soon and that recent diplomatic developments meant the prospect of strikes from North Korean missiles has subsided for now.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un promised at his summit with President Donald Trump to work toward a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Washington has also announced that it will suspend its joint military exercises with South Korea planned for the summer.

The planned suspension surfaced Thursday after officials in Tochigi prefecture confirmed a drill there next Tuesday had been called off at the government’s request. Missile drill plans in eight other prefectures, including Kagawa and Tokushima in southwestern Japan, as well as Niigata, Toyama and Ishikawa in the north, were also put on hold.

The Cabinet Secretariat stressed that the drills are suspended only as long as the tensions remain reduced.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga last week told reporters that the Trump-Kim summit has significantly relieved Japan’s security environment.

Read more: How Japan Is Preparing for a North Korean Nuclear Attack

The government, however, still plans to go ahead with a plan to install land-based Aegis Ashore missile interceptors. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said North Korea still possesses hundreds of ballistic missiles, which have not been dismantled.

Japan’s government started missile-specific evacuation drills last March in addition to usual earthquake and other drills, and has since conducted them in more than 20 towns around the country, including Tokyo.

In a typical drill, about 300 town residents and schoolchildren rush to school buildings to seek shelter after sirens from loudspeakers warn them of a possible missile flight and debris falling on them. They are advised to put their faces down and protect their heads.

Source: Google News Japan | Netizen 24 Japan

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Posted by On 8:13 PM

Japan worker's pay docked for taking lunch 3 mins early

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A May 22, 2015 file photo shows a businessman sleeping on a bench at a Tokyo train station. Japanese workers long, strict hours have led to a health crisis in the country.

A Japanese city official has been reprimanded and fined for repeatedly leaving his desk about three minutes before the official lunch break began to buy lunch. The official, who works at the waterworks bureau in the western city of Kobe, began his designated lunch break early 26 times over the space of seven months, according to a city spokesman.

"The lunch break is from noon to 1 pm. He left his desk before the break," the spokesman told AFP on Thursday.

The official, 64, had half a day's pay docked as punishment and the bosses called a news conference to a pologize.

"It's deeply regrettable that this misconduct took place. We're sorry," a bureau official told reporters, bowing deeply.

The worker was in violation of a public service law stating that officials have to concentrate on their jobs, according to the bureau.

The news sparked a heated debate on Japanese social media, with many defending the official.

"It's sheer madness. It's crazy. What about leaving your desk to smoke?" said one Twitter user.

"Is this a bad joke? Does this mean we cannot even go to the bathroom?" said another.

The city had previously suspended another official in February for a month after he had left his office numerous times to buy a ready-made lunch box during work hours.

The official was absent a total of 55 hours over six months, according to the city.

Japanese workers do unusually long hours on the job, and it has triggered a health crisis.

An alarm ing rise in suicides among overworked employees finally forced the government to limit overtime last year -- but the proposed new ceiling on overtime was so high -- 100 hours per month -- critics said it still wouldn't protect workers.

© 2018 AFP. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Source: Google News Japan | Netizen 24 Japan

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Posted by On 8:13 PM

Japan to halt missile attack drills after Trump-Kim summit

In January, Tokyo held its first evacuation drill after North Korea launched missiles that flew over Japan [Reuters]
In January, Tokyo held its first evacuation drill after North Korea launched missiles that flew over Japan [Reuters]

Japan has decided to halt drills to prepare for a North Korean missile attack, after a landmark summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un eased tension, Kyodo news agency reported on Thursday.

A Japanese senior official told Reuters they would make an announcement on Friday concerning the drills.

Trump met Kim on June 12 in Singapore, where the North Korean leader commi tted to "work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula", while Trump said he would end what he called "provocative" US-South Korean military exercises.

Japan: In the Missile's Shadow

Japan welcomed the summit as a first step towards the denuclearisation of North Korea, but also said the US-South Korean exercises were a vital deterrent to North Korean threats.

North Korea last year launched two missiles that flew over Japan. It also conducted its sixth nuclear test.

In January, Japan's capital of Tokyo held its first evacuation drill, and smaller Japanese towns and villages have conducted similar exercises as North Korea pushed ahead with its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

Kyodo said there were plans for evacuation drills this year in nine prefectures.

An official in Yaita, in northern Japan, told Reuters that Tochigi Pref ecture, where it is located, had notified the city that the central government had decided to halt the planned drill "taking into account the international situation".

Kyodo said several other prefectures had also been notified of the imminent decision to halt the drills.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is eyeing his own summit with Kim to tackle the matter of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korean agents decades ago.

In 2002, North Korea admitted that its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s.

Japan says 17 of its citizens were abducted, five of whom were repatriated.

North Korea has said eight are dead, while another four never entered the country. Abe has made the issue a pillar of his political career and vowed not to rest until all the abductees come home.

SOURCE: Reuters news agency

Source: Google News Japan | Netizen 24 Japan