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2013年12月21日 (土)

「首都直下地震」 人命と国の中枢をどう守るか

The Yomiuri Shimbun December 20, 2013
Act to protect lives and govt center from major earthquake damage
「首都直下地震」 人命と国の中枢をどう守るか(12月20日付・読売社説)

Paralysis of the nation’s nerve center in a major earthquake is a worst-case scenario that must be prevented.

A panel of the government’s Central Disaster Management Council, which has been studying measures to deal with the aftermath of a major quake whose focus is directly below Tokyo, has compiled a report on the scale of a predicted temblor and the damage likely to be caused.

The predictions were made based on the assumption of a magnitude-7.3 earthquake occurring with its focus in southern central Tokyo. The panel has adopted this scenario because among the various quakes that might happen in Tokyo and its vicinity, there is a 70-percent possibility that a magnitude-7.3 quake will occur within 30 years and it would strike a direct blow to the nation’s nerve center.

The anticipated earthquake would cause shaking at an intensity of upper 6 on the Japanese scale of seven in central Tokyo, even reaching 7 in some areas. In the worst case, 610,000 buildings and houses are predicted to collapse and be destroyed by fire, causing about 23,000 deaths.

This reflects the fragility of a gigantic and overpopulated city. Countermeasures must be taken urgently.

Above all, fires are of serious concern. Fires are anticipated to break out in various places simultaneously and spread for about two days. It is feared that disaster victims will not be able to escape and will be engulfed by fire.

Streets will be swamped with people who have lost their homes or are unable to return home. Major roads will become unusable due to the debris while railways and other transport networks will be disrupted.

Losses of power, water and telephone connections may continue for about a week.

Disruption of official functions

Of special concern is that the Diet, the Prime Minister’s Office and government offices will cease to function. If central coordination and control are lost, the damage will be compounded.

Moreover, if the nerve center for economic activities is destroyed, production and distribution will stagnate, with a major impact across the nation. Economic damage is estimated to total about ¥95 trillion.


If the percentage of buildings in Tokyo equipped with earthquake resistance measures is enhanced from the current 87 percent to 94 percent, the death toll would be halved, according to calculations by the panel.

Regarding fires, if earthquake-sensing breakers, which stop power supply immediately upon sensing a temblor, were installed in every household to reduce the likelihood of fire, it is said that the fire death toll would drop by 90 percent.

The public and private sectors must cooperate in strengthening such immediately needed countermeasures.

The Cabinet Office, under which the disaster panel exists, has drafted a program to preserve government functions in the aftermath of a disaster, taking into account the panel’s compilation of disaster damage predictions.

The program calls for quickly grasping the damage situation to begin rescue and relief activities. It also points out the need to disseminate accurate information both at home and abroad and make all-out efforts to carry out emergency measures on such priority issues as financial stability and public safety. It will be necessary to clarify the roles to be played by the government ministries and agencies concerned so that measures can be implemented without fail.

A special law was enacted last month to accelerate countermeasures against an earthquake centered directly below Tokyo. Areas will be designated based on the law to accelerate the reinforcement of sewerage and other infrastructure systems with the joint efforts of the central and local governments. Projects must be promoted steadily on a priority basis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 20, 2013)
(2013年12月20日01時36分  読売新聞)


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