TOKYO -- Japan will hold its first-ever evacuation drills to prepare for an incoming ballistic missile -- a threat that is becoming more realistic as North Korea's missile tests grow more frequent.
Municipalities will be selected in January for participation in the drills, which are to take place as early as March.
Using the nationwide J-Alert warning system, authorities will have residents practice what to do in the 10 to 15 minutes it would take for a missile to hit Japan.
The focus will likely be ensuring residents are prepared to seek shelter indoors -- preferably underground -- in the event of a missile threat. Government bodies including the Cabinet Office and Fire and Disaster Management Agency, which runs J-Alert, are set to participate as well.
North Korea launched more than 20 ballistic missiles in 2016. Japan has responded by strengthening missile-defense efforts, part of plans for record defense spending in fiscal 2017. Tokyo is also working to familiarize the public with the J-Alert system.
Evacuations in the case of a terror attack are already practiced regularly.