The Japanese state broadcaster NHK apologized for mistakenly issuing a news alert claiming that North Korea had launched a missile and citizens should seek refuge, only a few days after a similar incident in Hawaii.
NHK sent the message around 7 p.m. on Tuesday citing “J-Alert”, a centralized satellite system used by the government to issue warnings to its citizens about emergencies such as missile launches or earthquakes, although the broadcaster corrected itself five minutes later.
The broadcaster apologised for issuing a false alert in a written statement which stated, however, that there were no reports of problems caused by the mistake.
The false missile alert was the second in a matter of days. Last week, an emergency alert notification sent out to residents of Hawaii warning of an incoming “ballistic missile threat” turned out to be a false alarm. The error was blamed on an employee who “pushed the wrong button”, CNN reported.
An NHK spokesperson said that staff had mistakenly operated the equipment to deliver news alerts over the Internet, although the reactions expressing concern and criticism soon hit social media.
NHK’s quick rectification of its error stands in contrast to the 40-minute delay by authorities in Hawaii in cancelling the false warning.
Japan conducted several citizen evacuation drills using its “J-Alert” system in the face of an eventual missile attack. The next evacuation drill is set to be conducted in Tokyo on January 22, in response to the repeated missile launches by North Korea, some of which flew over Japan’s territory in 2017.