An American in Japan is describing what it was like to wake up to a text message alert about Thursday’s North Korean missile launch, which went over the northern island of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific Ocean.
Matthew Galat, a filmmaker and video blogger who is travelling in Hokkaido, told CTV News Channel that he was awakened at his hotel around 7 a.m. on Thursday, by an alarm on his cellphone.
“It was very loud, overrode all the functions of my phone and was blaring a Japanese message,” he said. He couldn’t tell what the message said, because he doesn’t read Japanese.
The text message alert from the Japanese government was followed by an alert on an outdoor public address system, also in Japanese, Galat said.
At first he guessed that the alert was a tsunami warning, he said. Then he used an online translator that told him the message meant “missile, missile… from North Korea … building in or down to evacuate underground.”
“Then I really didn’t know what to do,” Galat said.
He said made his way to the lobby, where the owner of the hotel also didn’t know what to do and that they “kind of joked” about it.
Galat said he later asked a Japanese woman about her reaction, and she told him she “just rolled over and went back to sleep.”
It was the second time in less than a month that Japan’s emergency J-Alert system has been activated due to a North Korean missile flyover. The last alert was on Aug. 29.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile on Thursday travelled about 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum height of 770 kilometres, according to The Associated Press.
North Korea's official KCNA news agency reported that officials had said that Japan should be “sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb…”
“Japan is no longer needed to exist near us," the committee said in a statement carried on KCNA.
Galat said he has previously travelled in North Korea, where he ran in a marathon. He said locals told him that they hate Americans.
“It’s a sad thing because … when you compare South Koreans with North Koreans, they’re all the same people, they just have different programming in their head and different ideas,” he said.
“It was kind of sad because you’d meet these people, you knew they were good people, but they have this steadfast ideology."