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North Korean Missile Tests: Comments and Reactions From Hokkaido Residents

Note for the Press: All of the content of this reporting is available for immediate use. Please provide a link to this report and full credit to Find Hokkaido Agents. If you use any of our reporting, please contact us with more details about your publication. We are happy to discuss our research and may also be able to offer additional quotes and comments.

Comments from Hokkaido Residents about North Korean Missile Tests

For the time period of 2020 to 2023, North Korea conducted a total of 100 ballistic missile tests. On several occasions, the Japanese government issued emergency messages (from the J-ALERT system in Japan) to warn the local residents. North Korea’s missile testing program is a source of ongoing stress and concern for residents of Hokkaido.

Below we present comments and reactions from the local community from our original interviews with Hokkaido residents.

Local Reactions to North Korean Missile Testing

Question: As a resident, do the tests make you feel afraid?

It was a scary experience for residents. I always feel uneasy, probably a bit more than other people. Why can’t we all live in peace?
— Sayaka, female, 32 years old, writer, Japanese resident in Sapporo

If I had to choose between scary and not scary, I would choose scary. But it doesn’t feel too real, so I’m not too scared.
— Ryosuke, male, 22 years old, student, Japanese resident in Sapporo

The alert sound is scary, it’s loud, scary, and unnerving. The situation feels more real and feels scarier because of it. I don’t really know what to do when it goes off.
— Nana, female, 24 years old, retail, Japanese resident in Sapporo

First, probably a little bit scary. But if you’re living here, and there is no attack, people get used to it. ‘Oh, here’s another one.’
— Hiroshi, male, 69 years old, retired, Japanese resident in Hokkaido

It makes me uneasy, because who wants to have a missile shot over them? But it’s happened so many times, I feel like, ‘Again?’
— Mark, male, 55 years old, teacher, an American living in Sapporo

I remember the first missile test I experienced. The phone started to vibrate, and there was a message I couldn’t read – but seemed important. As a foreigner just learning to speak Japanese, it made me anxious. I didn’t know what it meant. I didn’t know what to do next.
— Graham, male, 50 years old, entrepreneur, an American living in Sapporo

Question: What do you think of the J-ALERT system?

I think it’s effective in scaring people, but so far nothings landed yet. So, I feel like when a missile actually aimed at land comes, we wouldn’t be able to react as necessary.
— Ryosuke, male, 22 years old, student, Japanese resident in Sapporo

JALERT is such a nuisance. People don’t like it. What is the use of it?

Since the missile doesn’t drop in Japanese territory, just in the Japanese economic zone… The Japanese don’t do anything about it.
— Hiroshi, male, 69 years old, retired, Japanese resident in Hokkaido

In case of emergency I think it’s effective, and has its purpose. So far none of the missiles actually hit land, and if one with the purpose of attack comes, I think a different, more intense warning would be issued.
— Hiroto, male, 22 years old, student, Japanese resident in Hokkaido

We provide more information on the use of J-ALERTs in our post: J-ALERT: Japan’s “National Early Warning System.”

Additional Comments:

There is a certain kind of awareness on the part of Japanese population… Traditionally, Japanese don’t want nuclear weapons. But North Korea, China, and Russia all have it. There is an awareness of this risk. So the conservative part of the Japanese population started to talk about having a nuclear weapon. That has been a taboo for a long time. Maybe that taboo is disappearing.
— Hiroshi, male, 69 years old, retired, Japanese resident in Hokkaido

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Missile Tests by the North Koreans

These comments from Hokkaido citizens about the North Korean missile tests are part of our reporting on the impact of North Korean missile testing on Hokkaido.

Press Contact

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