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Confusion in Hokkaido: residents react to North Korea's missile launch

'I had no idea where to go', said one woman after a North Korean missile flew over the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

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Confusion in Hokkaido: residents react to North Korea's missile launch

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Residents of Japan’s northernmost island received so-called ‘J-Alerts’ on their mobile phones to warn of North Korea’s latest missile launch.

An email was sent and loud alarms rang out in places, warning the people of Hokkaido to stay indoors.

However, there are reports of some alarms not working and, despite the other measures, some people said they did not know what to do.

One woman said: “Even if I was told to evacuate, I had no idea where to go. I was confused and a bit lost.”

“You cannot run away from it. There is no way to run away from it which is the biggest worry,” added another woman.

Analysts speculate Pyongyang may have been testing a new intermediate-range missile.

“I think what’s most distressing about this new test is the fact that it flew over Japan and landed near the islet of Hokkaido,” said John Delury, an associate professor of East Asian Studies at Seoul’s Yonsei University. “But we need to contextualise it. This is not new. North Korea is playing with some of the domestic politics in Washington, in Seoul, and maybe in Tokyo.

“On both sides you’ve got people who are arguing harder positions and more moderate positions. And actions like this obviously strengthen the hand of hardliners everywhere,”

Delury added that the missile flight over the territory of a close US ally could be linked to North Korea’s previous threat of creating ‘enveloping fire’ near a US military hub on the Pacific island of Guam.

A small protest took place in Tokyo in reaction to Tuesday’s launch.