Three days after the January 13 false alarm of a North Korean nuclear attack on Hawaii, Japan’s public TV broadcaster NHK issued its own false alarm around 7 p.m., warning in error that North Korea had launched a missile at Japan. As reported by CNN, Jan. 17, and by the New York Times, National Public Radio, and Reuters Jan. 16, the shocking message was received by Japanese smart phone users and by NHK TV website viewers.
Like in Hawaii, the Japanese public was amazed to read, according to a translation from Reuters: “NORTH KOREA APPEARS TO HAVE LAUNCHED A MISSILE. THE GOVERNMENT URGES PEOPLE TO TAKE SHELTER INSIDE BUILDINGS OR UNDERGROUND.”
Unlike Hawaii’s scare, which threw the state’s population of 1.4 million into a panic, NHK Japan’s fake news was broadcast nation-wide to about 127 million people. The TV network blamed the terror alert on a “switching error” and corrected it in less than 10 minutes. “We are deeply sorry,” NHK announced on its 9:00 p.m. news Jan. 16.
In Arsenals of Folly, author Richard Rhodes documents how US government “officials frequently and deliberately inflated their estimates of military threats facing the United States, beginning with … exaggerated Soviet military capabilities.” A review in the Feb. 7, 2008 New York Review of Books said, “The exaggeration of foreign threats, however pernicious, is a tactic,” and quotes Rhodes’ study: “Threat inflation was crucial to maintaining the defense budgets… Fear was part of the program …”
The New York Review also noted that in 1998, the US Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States “warned that Iran and North Korea could hit the US with missiles within five years.” Twenty years later, neither country can do so.
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