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2012年9月 1日 (土)

南海トラフ地震 減災対策を着実に進めたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Sep. 1, 2012)
Disaster-preparedness measures must be steadily pushed forward
南海トラフ地震 減災対策を着実に進めたい(8月31日付・読売社説)

Measures to prepare for and minimize damage from a gigantic earthquake and tsunami must be implemented unwaveringly.

Two Cabinet Office expert panels released damage predictions Wednesday regarding a potential "Nankai Trough Earthquake," a severe tremor caused by multiple concurrent or sequential earthquakes--likely involving what are known as Tokai, Tonankai or Nankai quakes--centered in the Nankai Trough that stretches from off Shizuoka Prefecture down to Shikoku and Kyushu.

If the sea bottom shifts off this wide stretch of shoreline from the Tokai region down to Kyushu, a huge earthquake up to magnitude 9 on the Richter scale could take place. Such a temblor could leave as many as 323,000 people dead, the estimates stated.

The most lethal recorded earthquake in Japan to date was the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which claimed the lives of more than 105,000 people.

Under the expert panels' projections, fatalities from a tsunami caused by a Nankai Trough Earthquake could hit 230,000, accounting for 70 percent of the deaths caused by the disaster. Such colossal fatalities would be due to tsunami more than five meters high on average striking 124 cities, towns and villages in Tokyo and 12 prefectures.


Quick evacuation key

Fatalities from earthquake-related damage such as collapsing buildings could reach a maximum of 82,000, according to the estimates.

Such a situation would be a national crisis.

Based on these projections, the central and relevant local governments must cooperate in planning effective countermeasures, such as securing sufficient evacuation routes and facilities.

The probability of such a megaquake actually occurring is, of course, rather slim.

In the course of the panel discussions, some experts expressed concern that local governments would simply give up on formulating effective countermeasures in the face of the enormous damage estimates associated with the strongest possible earthquake.

However, the most bitter lesson among many drawn from the Great East Japan Earthquake is that past projections of earthquake damage were too mild and disaster preparations were far from sufficient.

Taking this into account, the expert panels released a set of specific steps they recommend be taken to reduce damage from a disaster.

For instance, if all residents of the areas affected by an earthquake begin evacuating within 10 minutes after the tremor hits, the number of fatalities due to tsunami could be reduced by 80 percent, the experts claimed. Their report stressed the importance of quick evacuation in the earliest possible phase of the disaster.

Also, if 100 percent of buildings met the earthquake-resistance requirements under the Building Standards Law instead of the current 76 percent, fatalities from collapsed buildings in the earthquake would also be cut by roughly 80 percent, the expert panels stated.


Industrial complexes in danger

Achieving these two steps would reduce fatalities to 61,000, about one-fifth of the maximum projected 323,000 victims. This figure should serve as a good reference for the national and local entities crafting disaster-preparedness measures.

However, given the severe state of the government's finances, undertaking the large-scale public works projects necessary to prepare for such a disaster, such as building sea walls, will be difficult.

Under the circumstances, we believe priority should be placed on programs that can be implemented immediately, such as designating buildings to be used as shelters and improving disaster drills.

The areas that would be devastated by a megaquake include zones thick with industrial sites. Quick to realize the possible danger, an increasing number of companies have begun taking such steps as moving offices and plants to higher ground and setting up their own disaster shelters.

We urge the government to provide support for small and midsized companies, which tend to be slow in taking action to prepare for disasters.

The government has hammered out plans for a special law that would accelerate construction of facilities needed to reduce disaster-related damage in areas susceptible to large earthquakes.

The government is also reported to have plans in the works to expand areas covered by earthquake-forecasting networks to address a possible Tokai Earthquake.

However, some have criticized these plans, saying there is no way to predict earthquakes. We hope in-depth discussions will be held regarding any legislation to be drafted on the matter, including whether such skepticism over earthquake forecasting is warranted.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 31, 2012)
(2012年8月31日01時19分  読売新聞)


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