Shades of the Cuban missile crisis. Weekly Playboy (May 15) reports that all of a sudden, Japanese have begun snatching up nuclear fallout shelters and air purifiers in unprecedented numbers. Seiichiro Nishimoto, president of the Habikino City-based Shelter, tells the magazine his business has been booming. The reason is simple: more people are concerned that if armed conflict breaks out on the Korean peninsula, Japan will be targeted by North Korean missiles.
"Over the past month, we've received over 200 requests for information," says Nishimoto. "Although up to now we've sold about five or six shelters a year, in April alone we've sold eight so far. And our answerphone's recorded over 100 inquiries. We can't handle them all."
According to Nishimoto, there's also been a sharp change in his customer base.
"Up to now we dealt mainly with affluent people, like medical doctors, and fans of the science fiction magazine 'MU,'" he chuckled. "But these days we're fielding inquiries from people of all ages and occupations. I've been in the fallout shelter business for going on 55 years now, and this is a first."
Business is also humming at the Oribe Precision Instruments plant in Kobe.
"We began getting flooded with phone calls and mails right after the incident in Syria on April 4," Nobuko Oribe, a company director, told Weekly Playboy's reporter. "And they weren't just inquiries. Some callers were saying, 'I want one from you as soon as possible. Now! Right away!' "
Apparently prospective customers don't seem to be aware that construction of an underground concrete shelter costs in the neighborhood of 25 million yen, with several months required for construction.
With outbreak of war between the U.S. and North Korea possible at any time, does that mean there's no time to take proactive measures?
Not necessarily, remarked the aforementioned Nishimoto. "Many people associate fallout shelters as being an underground chamber, but that's not necessarily the case. By installing an air purifier to keep out radioactive particles or toxic chemicals, a room in a house can suffice. We are also selling Swiss-made air purifiers for 2.8 million yen per unit. And they can be installed in one day. We've already sold eight of them this month -- all at that price."
Oribe Precision Instruments offers even cheaper air filtration. "We recommend our air purifier, which can filter out radioactive particles as well as such toxic gases as sarin, VX and so on," says Oribe. "Even if the electric power is cut, the purifier can be manually operated, as it's equipped with a bellows. Its dimensions are about the same as a large trash bucket, and at 620,000 yen it's pretty affordable. It can be installed in a bedroom, and should a nuclear attack take place, all the family members should huddle together in one room, and run the purifier until the all-clear is sounded.
"This month, we've been selling two or three of them per day on average," Oribe added.
Hmmm, the writer ponders. If you're looking at an outlay of 620,000 yen, that's probably equivalent to splurging your entire summer bonus. But for your family's safety, isn't it worth it?© Japan Today