Asia Minute: Japan's False Alarm

Jan 17, 2018

NHK Broadcasting Center
Credit Kakidai / Wikimedia Commons

Just days after this weekend’s false alarm of a missile bound for Hawai‘i, there was a similar event in Japan. But there were also some major differences. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Tuesday night local time, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK issued an alarming alert on its website.

It said “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”

The alert also went out to mobile phone users who had downloaded NHK’s online news app. It was not broadcast on NHK. Unlike the mobile phone alert that went out in Hawai‘i, the notice in Japan was only sent to those who had downloaded the news app—as well as the website.

Five minutes later, a correction went out on both platforms that carried the original alert—saying that no government warning issued under the system called “J-alert.”

On the 9 PM news, an NHK newscaster said “this happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the internet had been incorrectly operated.”

That “J-alert” system has been around for more than a decade, and is used to warn residents and visitors of various kinds of emergencies—from earthquakes to severe weather. It’s a satellite-based system that authorities can use to broadcast alerts directly to local media by way of radio, television, email and mobile phone notifications.

Most warnings are broadcast in five languages: Japanese, English, Mandarin, Korean and Portuguese.

In the case of the false alarm from Japan’s government broadcaster, that J-alert system was never engaged.

Just days after this weekend’s false alarm of a missile bound for Hawai‘i, there was a similar event in Japan. But there were also some major differences. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Tuesday night local time, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK issued an alarming alert on its website.

It said “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”

The alert also went out to mobile phone users who had downloaded NHK’s online news app. It was not broadcast on NHK. Unlike the mobile phone alert that went out in Hawai‘i, the notice in Japan was only sent to those who had downloaded the news app—as well as the website.

Five minutes later, a correction went out on both platforms that carried the original alert—saying that no government warning issued under the system called “J-alert.”

On the 9 PM news, an NHK newscaster said “this happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the internet had been incorrectly operated.”

That “J-alert” system has been around for more than a decade, and is used to warn residents and visitors of various kinds of emergencies—from earthquakes to severe weather. It’s a satellite-based system that authorities can use to broadcast alerts directly to local media by way of radio, television, email and mobile phone notifications.

Most warnings are broadcast in five languages: Japanese, English, Mandarin, Korean and Portuguese.

In the case of the false alarm from Japan’s government broadcaster, that J-alert system was never engaged.

Just days after this weekend’s false alarm of a missile bound for Hawai‘i, there was a similar event in Japan. But there were also some major differences. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Tuesday night local time, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK issued an alarming alert on its website.

It said “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”

The alert also went out to mobile phone users who had downloaded NHK’s online news app. It was not broadcast on NHK. Unlike the mobile phone alert that went out in Hawai‘i, the notice in Japan was only sent to those who had downloaded the news app—as well as the website.

Five minutes later, a correction went out on both platforms that carried the original alert—saying that no government warning issued under the system called “J-alert.”

On the 9 PM news, an NHK newscaster said “this happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the internet had been incorrectly operated.”

That “J-alert” system has been around for more than a decade, and is used to warn residents and visitors of various kinds of emergencies—from earthquakes to severe weather. It’s a satellite-based system that authorities can use to broadcast alerts directly to local media by way of radio, television, email and mobile phone notifications.

Most warnings are broadcast in five languages: Japanese, English, Mandarin, Korean and Portuguese.

In the case of the false alarm from Japan’s government broadcaster, that J-alert system was never engaged.

Just days after this weekend’s false alarm of a missile bound for Hawai‘i, there was a similar event in Japan. But there were also some major differences. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Tuesday night local time, Japan’s public broadcaster NHK issued an alarming alert on its website.

It said “North Korea appears to have launched a missile. The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”

The alert also went out to mobile phone users who had downloaded NHK’s online news app. It was not broadcast on NHK. Unlike the mobile phone alert that went out in Hawai‘i, the notice in Japan was only sent to those who had downloaded the news app—as well as the website.

Five minutes later, a correction went out on both platforms that carried the original alert—saying that no government warning issued under the system called “J-alert.”

On the 9 PM news, an NHK newscaster said “this happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the internet had been incorrectly operated.”

That “J-alert” system has been around for more than a decade, and is used to warn residents and visitors of various kinds of emergencies—from earthquakes to severe weather. It’s a satellite-based system that authorities can use to broadcast alerts directly to local media by way of radio, television, email and mobile phone notifications.

Most warnings are broadcast in five languages: Japanese, English, Mandarin, Korean and Portuguese.

In the case of the false alarm from Japan’s government broadcaster, that J-alert system was never engaged.