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Japanese firms ramp up antiquake efforts

Publication Date : 31-08-2012


Japanese businesses with bases on the Pacific coast are urgently implementing measures to minimise potential damage from a possible megaquake in the Nankai Trough and ensuing tsunami.

Suzuki Motor Corp. is deeply concerned about such a scenario as it has a base in Shizuoka Prefecture, where serious damage is expected in the event of a Nankai Trough triple quake.

In a bid to move some of its facilities farther inland, the automaker purchased 270,000 square metres of city-owned land on high ground in Kita Ward, Hamamatsu. The company plans to relocate its eco-friendly vehicle development department at its headquarters in Minami Ward in the city, and its motorcycle technical center's design department in Iwata of the prefecture, to the site by May 2017.

"There is a concern that damage could be caused not only by tsunami, but also by liquefaction and an accident at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant," Suzuki Motor Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Osamu Suzuki said.

Toyota Motor Corp. plans to build breakwaters near its factory in Tahara, Aichi Prefecture, where the automaker produces Lexus model cars and other vehicles. As the factory faces the Mikawa Bay, Toyota will determine the height of breakwaters and the timing for their construction based on government-panel predictions of potential damage from a megaquake and ensuing tsunami.

West Japan Railway Co. will invest 57 billion yen (US$725 million) in measures to minimize damage due to a Nankai Trough megaquake over the next 10 years, including antiseismic retrofitting of elevated bridges for its Shinkansen line.

Supermarket chain Aeon Co. will provide solar power generation and an off-grid power system to its 100 shops nationwide so they can be used as disaster-response sites in case of a major quake.

Maintaining gas and kerosene supplies is also a major concern because many refineries are located along the Pacific coast. In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake gas supplies were hit not only due to suspended production but also blackouts at shipping terminal tanks, which made it impossible to ship supplies.

To prevent such a situation in the future, Showa Shell Sekiyu will install a backup power source at every tank. The firm also plans to install solar panels at 450 of its own gas stations to provide power in case of a power outage.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry secured a total of 35.4 billion yen in fiscal 2011 and 2012 for disaster-management measures at places such as oil-related facilities. The ministry will set up core gas stations with large underground tanks at about 50 sites in each prefecture to secure gasoline for medical organizations, evacuation sites and emergency vehicles.


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