As tensions continue to mount between the United States and North Korea, Japan has discussed what measures must be taken to ensure its own citizens' safety in the midst of this volatile conflict.
Sandwiched between a Korean peninsula seemingly on the verge of war, and an oncoming U.S. aircraft carrier group headed to monitor North Korean nuclear ambitions, Japan, a key U.S. ally in the region, is being forced to confront the harsh realities of a war that never really ended.
The situation looks grim as the world waits to see if North Korea intends to carry out a sixth nuclear missile test with U.S. forces on the way and a president unafraid to lash out. The North Korean government condemned the U.S. for sending "huge nuclear strategic assets" to the peninsula.
In response, Japan's National Security Council has discussed how to evacuate the nearly 60,000 Japanese citizens living in South Korea. According to NBC News, an unnamed official familiar with the topic said Japan would want to send commercial ships and planes, as well as military aircraft and ships to assist the South Korean government with the effort.
The Japanese National Security Council reportedly discussed the subject in a meeting on April 13. According to ABC.net.au. There's also concern about a possible flood of North Korean refugees to Japan, as well as North Korean spies and agents.
President Donald Trump's first hundred days are coming to a close and already they have been marked with a violent shift in American foreign policy. Tensions around the world have risen since the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week, and Pyongyang sees itself as the next target.
The U.S. sent a clear message: the era of "strategic patience" is over. Unfortunately for the region, Kim Jong-Un is not a negotiator, and everyone must be ready should the button get pushed.
"At present, we are in close contact with the United States and South Korea, and in addition to urging [the North] to refrain from provocative actions and observe relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions we will take all necessary steps to protect our people's lives and assets," said Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a news conference on Friday.
According to ABC.net.au, Japan has been working on plans to respond to potential crises in the Korean Peninsula since a meeting between President Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; however there's concern that making preparations public could boost anxiety in an already tense region.