- Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters
People in Japan have been rushing to buy nuclear bomb shelters and air purifiers because of a fear that North Korea may launch a missile attack without notice.
Now the country’s suppliers are struggling to keep up with demand, forcing people onto a waiting list.
“It takes time and money to build a shelter,” Nobuko Oribe, director of Oribe Seiki Seisakusho, the company that supplies most of Japan’s shelters and purifiers, told Reuters.
In a typical year, the company receives six shelter orders. It received eight in April of this year alone. Oribe’s company has also been getting non-stop orders for the purifiers in the last few months.
North Korea’s test launches have been getting more sophisticated over the last year. In May, the country launched a missile that climbed to 1,240 feet and flew more than 500 miles during its half-hour flight. It was the highest and furthest missile test the country has ever pulled off.
Analysts have expressed concern that a missile launched at a lower trajectory could fly even further.
A critical consideration for Japan is the possibility the ballistic missiles will come equipped with warheads containing sarin nerve gas. In April, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced his concerns about chemical warfare.
Many people responded in panic, rushing out to buy provisions that would shield them from an attack. Oribe’s shelters, which are some of the country’s best-sellers, can be installed beneath a home and reportedly withstand Hiroshima-level bombs detonated 2,100 feet away.
The company prices its purifiers and shelters based on the number of people they can service. Six-person purifiers cost $5,630, while 13-person purifiers run for more than $15,000.
“A year ago, we were getting maybe five calls a day about air purifiers, but it is thirty a day now”, Shota Hayashi, a spokesman for Oribe Seiki Seisakusho, told the Telegraph.
Bomb shelters are even more costly. The largest model, a 13-person unit, goes for more than $223,000.
Japanese citizens that don’t have access to a shelter have been told to find cover inside sturdy buildings or underground, if possible. The government has also warned to stay away from windows in the event of a blast.