Japan’s Doomsday Preppers Are Buying $19,000 Bomb Shelters
Business has never been better at Atlas Survival Shelters, which ships bunkers to customers around the world from its U.S. factories. Among the best sellers: the BombNado, with a starting price of $18,999.
The popularity of the company’s doomsday fortifications is no surprise, considering the state of the world in general and, specifically, Kim Jong-Un’s pursuit of a missile that can hit the continental U.S. Curiously, though, the most furious surge of interest isn’t in America but Japan, a country that’s long been within North Korea’s striking distance.
“Japan’s going hog wild right now,” said Ron Hubbard, owner of Atlas Survival. The Montebello, California-based company makes about a dozen different underground refuge models intended to be inhabitable for six months to a year, some outfitted with escape tunnels, decontamination rooms and bulletproof hatches.
While the Japanese have viewed North Korea as a menace for decades, the rogue regime’s July 4 launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile raised the level of alarm among preppers, as some people serious about emergency preparedness call themselves. Japan has its own small bunker-making sector, but the U.S., unique in its abundance of survivalist networks, is ground zero for get-ready-for-Armageddon businesses.
Like Atlas Survival, underground-shelter manufacturer Rising S Co. in Murchison, Texas, has been inundated. Inquiries about its steel-clad products have doubled in the past three weeks, and 80 percent have come from Japan, said General Manager Gary Lynch.
The company website lays out the many options — a decontamination area, a fitness center, a swimming pool, a gun range, a game room with pool tables, a garage for your Porsche. The Aristocrat, big enough to sleep more than 50 and delivered with a bowling alley, is listed at $8.35 million.
North Korea is behind the fresh interest, Lynch said. “It’s really not a new threat, it’s just something the media and people are paying attention to.”
The threat, in fact, escalated significantly after the successful ICBM test. It now appears that a nuclear-equipped North Korea can hit Alaska, nearly 6,000 miles away. Tokyo is just 800 miles from Pyongyang, across the Sea of Japan.
The government of Shinzo Abe takes it all seriously, regularly updating its civil-protection website with tips (stay inside, keep away from windows) and airing public-interest ads on TV about what to do in event a ballistic missile is en route and the country’s early warning system successfully sounds the alert. Children are given instructions at school — basically, get under your desks.
“People are genuinely afraid,” said Seiichiro Nishimoto, president of Shelter Co., an Osaka-based installer of air-conditioned nuclear shelters imported from Israel. “That’s why we’re getting so many calls.”
In Japan and around the world, “people are getting off the fence — we’ve got thousands and thousands of applications,” said Robert Vicino, founder and chief executive officer of Vivos, in Del Mar, California, maker of a luxury lineup that can withstand what its website calls “a future life-extinction event.”
Advertised features include nuclear-biological-chemical air-filtration systems, space to store enough food and toilet paper for a year, a diesel generator, an emergency exit shaft and, importantly, the ability to take a 500,000-pound blast without crumpling.
Vivos (“alive” in Spanish) sells models for individual and communal use, and has built subterranean survival communities in the U.S. and Europe. The latest is xPoint, on 9,000 acres in South Dakota, with 575 off-grid dugouts and planned amenities including a community theater, hydroponic gardens, shooting ranges and a members-only restaurant and bar. The upfront cost to lease one is $25,000. Vicino, the CEO, said about 50 have been leased or reserved so far.
The company has nothing planned yet for Japan, but a so-called survival resort is in the works for South Korea. “We hope we’re done in time,” Vicino said, referring to impending disaster. — With assistance from Andy Sharp