TOKYO — Japan has started planning for a possible evacuation of the 60,000 Japanese citizens currently living in or visiting South Korea as tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue to rise.
There are currently around 38,000 Japanese living in South Korea, while about 19,000 are tourists or short-term visitors, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.
Tokyo is proposing four contingency plans: limit nonessential travel to South Korea, discourage all travel to South Korea, advise all Japanese to evacuate and encourage them to take shelter in place, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
In the event of smaller military skirmishes between the Koreas, Tokyo would discourage all travel to South Korea, while concurrently urging citizens to leave using commercial aircraft.
During a shelter in place scenario, Japan would need to work with Seoul. For example, if South Korean airports were taken out, the Japanese embassy would advise citizens to stay in place or seek safer shelter further south.
South Korea has agreed to give Japanese in the country access to safes zones, such as designated subway stations, churches and shopping centers, a source told the Nikkei Asian Review. Tokyo has provided its citizens with over 900 such facilities.
In the event flying is not an option, Japanese citizens could return by sea from the port city of Busan. Japan is currently in talks with the U.S. to have American forces transport evacuees to Busan.
In response to Pyongyang's sixth nuclear test, Japan and the U.S. are looking to increase economic pressure on North Korea through an oil embargo and other measures.