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Tokyo releases new antidisaster plan

Publication Date : 14-09-2012


The Tokyo metropolitan government on Wednesday released its new regional antidisaster plan, setting as a goal a 60 per cent reduction of the assumed death toll in the event of a major earthquake directly hitting Tokyo.

The plan divides the necessary measures into categories covering four zones: areas with a high concentration of wooden housing, the central part of Tokyo with many high-rise buildings, low-lying areas in eastern wards, and mountainous zones.

By establishing measures best suited for each zone, the metropolitan government aims over the next 10 years to reduce the assumed death toll by about 60 per cent, the number of burned-down buildings by about 60 per cent, and the number of evacuees by about 40 per cent.

In April, the Tokyo government compiled estimates of damage in the event of a major quake with an epicenter in northern Tokyo Bay, revising the maximum death toll from about 5,600 in the previous estimates to about 9,700.

The assumed number of evacuees is currently about 3.39 million and that of destroyed or severely damaged buildings is about 300,000.

The latest plan stipulates that full-fledged measures will be taken in about 16,000 hectares where wooden houses are concentrated, which are considered Tokyo's biggest weak point.

The measures are aimed especially at about 7,000 hectares mainly in Sumida and Meguro wards that have a high percentage of old houses.

According to the plan, the metropolitan and ward governments will increase the fire-resistance capabilities of buildings in the area and ensure roads are 16 metres wide to prevent fire from spreading, by fiscal 2020.

The metropolitan government said the measures in areas with a high concentration of wooden housing will reduce the death toll by about 2,000, the number of evacuees by about 370,000, and the number of destroyed or burned buildings by about 92,000.

To encourage the antidisaster upgrades, the metropolitan government will offer landowners preferential treatment if they take measures to improve the quake-resistance of properties in areas with a high concentration of wooden housing.

For example, local governments will reduce the property tax for such landowners and offer subsidies for the implementation of antiquake measures.

The metropolitan government plans to bring all buildings on major highways in line with the measures by fiscal 2015.

It also plans to boost the capabilities of local communities to cope with disasters as well as mutual support and self-help initiatives among local residents. Local residents' associations are expected to play leading roles in the first stage of extinguishing fires and confirming neighbors' safety.

The plan sets as a goal the restoration of at least 95 per cent of water supply, sewerage, and electricity and gas supplies within 60 days of a disaster.

It asks companies concerned to resume the power supply within seven days, telephone and other telecommunication services within 14 days, and gas supply within 60 days.

The metropolitan government plans to increase the quake-resistance of water supply and sewerage systems so they can be restored within 30 days.

Based on lessons learned from the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, the plan also includes measures to prevent liquefaction in low-lying areas in eastern wards; to prevent people from being trapped in elevators during a disaster; and to mitigate landslides in mountainous zones.

The metropolitan government said that taking the measures will minimize the damage from an inland quake directly hitting Tokyo.

The metropolitan government has made four damage estimates in the event of four types of quakes directly hitting Tokyo--one with its epicenter in northern Tokyo Bay; one centered in the Tama area; one caused by the Tachikawa fault; and an ocean-trench type called a Kanto earthquake.

A quake centered in northern Tokyo Bay is expected to cause the greatest damage.

Recent research has shown that the focus of such a quake will be shallower than previously predicted. The maximum intensity of the quake on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of seven was recently revised upward from upper six to seven.


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