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On Tuesday, Japan's state broadcasting organization, NHK, sent out a terrifying mobile notification which read: "NHK news alert. North Korea likely to have launched missile. The government J alert: evacuate inside the building or underground." Japanese residents only had a very brief time to contend with existential questions about how to spend their final moments; the apocalyptic warning was retracted minutes later, CNN reports.
Japan's false alarm occurred just three days after a similar alert was sent by mistake to residents in Hawaii on Saturday, sparking widespread panic before it was rescinded. NBC News notes that Tuesday's alert was only sent to people who had NHK's app installed on their phones, and while NHK published the alert on its website, it did not air on TV. "Due to the quick response from [NHK]," NBC News explains, "there was limited social media commentary regarding the incident in Japan." By comparison, Hawaii's weekend nuclear scare — complete with blaring sirens — went out to basically everyone with a cell phone, and continued for an exhausting 38 minutes before it was deemed a false alarm caused by human error.
Exactly how Japan's false alarm occurred isn't yet clear.