Monday 23 April 2018

'I knew I had to get to my girlfriend' - Irishman in Japan reveals moment he woke up to missile alert

Brendan Walsh woke up to a warning message about North Korea's missiles
Brendan Walsh woke up to a warning message about North Korea's missiles

Kathy Armstrong

A young Irishman living in Japan has said he feared his ill girlfriend might be abandoned in hospital if North Korea hit them with a ballistic missile.

Brendan Walsh lives on Japan's Hokkaido Island and said he was woken up this morning by an emergency State text alert, advising people to take cover after North Korea had missiles over the island.

The missile flew for around 1,700 miles before it broke into three pieces and landed in the sea.

Brendan, who is from Maynooth in Co Kildare, said the terrifying incident has prompted him to pack an emergency kit in case the worst happens.

Speaking on Drivetime on RTE Radio One, he said: "I was in bed and I had my alarm set for 6.40am but I was woken earlier by an emergency text alert, we might get those alerts for tsunamis or volcano alerts from the government.

"The word emergency is in English and the rest is in Japanese, I looked and saw 'North Korea has launched a missile'.

"I assumed it was maybe a missile that was a bit too close for comfort, we're aware that they often launch missiles and they'll end up in the sea off Japan.

"Two minutes later my neighbour came in and said we had to get out, we had to evacuate and head towards an underground subway station."

Read More: Trump: 'All options on the table' after North Korea fires missile over Japan

Brendan, who has lived in Japan for 14 months, said that he feared his sick girlfriend could be left behind in hospital if chaos ensued.

He explained: "It was very strange, I didn't know how to feel.

"My first concern was that I would need to get to my girlfriend because she's ill in hospital at the moment.
"She's on the fourth floor, she's very weak, she has a drip in her arm and can barely move.

"I just kept thinking would they leave her there and run, I knew I had to get to her."

While he hopes that North Korea won't target them again, he said it has prompted him to think about his options in case war breaks out.

Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) soldiers take part in a drill to mobilise their Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile unit in response to a recent missile launch by North Korea, at U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base in Fussa on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) soldiers take part in a drill to mobilise their Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile unit in response to a recent missile launch by North Korea, at U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base in Fussa on the outskirts of Tokyo, Japan August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

He said: "It crossed my mind this morning that I need to make an emergency box with tons of water and small sentimental things that matter, like photos.

"We also need to use the walk to the train to figure out what's the quickest way in the case of emergency, what could fall and potentially be in the way and what would I need to pack?"

Read More: North Korea accuses US of driving peninsula to 'explosion' as EU condemns missile launch

Brendan admits he was bemused that the island, which is smaller than Ireland, could be a target.

He said: "There's no real value to hitting here, overall all I could think was that from a North Korean point of view there's much bigger Japanese targets.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waving from a balcony of the Grand People's Study House to participants of a military parade and mass rally on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang. (AP photo, May 10 2016)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un waving from a balcony of the Grand People's Study House to participants of a military parade and mass rally on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang. (AP photo, May 10 2016)

"Nobody really spoke about this in work today. I teach primary school, the equivalent of fifth and sixth class, and I assumed teachers didn't want to panic the students.

"From my own point of view, I'm thinking that missile was a test, it's the best way to test it by firing it up, seeing how far it can travel, the speed and impact.

"It's not this one that matters, they've done that test but what's the second one going to be, or the third one?

"I'm not going to lose sleep over this, if there's another one I might consider coming home a bit more."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said this while his military made no attempt to shoot it down, they have agree with the US to increase pressure on North Korea.

He said: "We must immediately hold an emergency meeting at the United Nations, and further strengthen pressure against North Korea."

North Korean officials have insisted they will carry on with their missile tests.

A spokesman said: "The US should know that it can neither browbeat the DPRK with any economic sanctions and military threats and blackmails nor make the DPRK flinch from the road chosen by itself."

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on August 29, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan in this photo taken by Kyodo on August 29, 2017. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN JAPAN. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News