19 Mai 2017
May 15, 2017
By MOTOFUMI WATANABE/ Staff Writer
HABIKINO, Osaka Prefecture--Sales of nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers have surged in Japan in recent months as fears grow over North Korea’s development of its nuclear missile capabilities.
Osaka-based Shelter Co., which sells shelters and provides housing reinforcements against natural disasters including earthquakes, sold 10 Swiss-made air purifiers in March and April alone, compared with the 55 years it took to sell the previous 10 units, starting in 1962.
“It is bad that the threat from our neighbor country is rising. I hope the world will become a place where those kinds of emergency preparations are not needed,” said Shelter President Seiichiro Nishimoto, 80.
The niche industry company has been overwhelmed with customer demand to set up the systems immediately, especially since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 13 in the Diet warned of the dangers of North Korea's capability to fire a sarin nerve gas-loaded missile toward Japan.
A Swiss-made air purifier can easily be installed in an apartment costing from 1.8 million yen ($15,900) to 2.8 million yen. The units boast of their capability to remove chemical substances and radioactive materials contained in the air coming from outside, according to a Shelter spokesperson.
Meanwhile, it takes several months to set up an underground shelter with steel-reinforced concrete, which costs 1.5 million yen or more for a space of 3.3 square meters. A shelter large enough to comfortably accommodate about a dozen people requires about 10 million yen.
Oribe Seiki Seisakusho Co. (Oribe accurate instrument producing company), which markets nuclear shelters in a variety of sizes, has also experienced soaring sales.
The Kobe-based company used to receive only about 10 orders for underground concrete-made nuclear shelters equipped with an air purifying function annually, but received 12 orders within a single month, April, for a shelter package that costs about 25 million yen, according to Nobuko Oribe, 73, company director.