Local govt disaster stocks far less than necessary: Japan

Local govt disaster stocks far less than necessary: Japan
A rescue worker directs mock evacuees away from a building, which has smoke rising from it, during an annual anti-disaster drill based on scenarios of a major earthquake hitting Chiba, east of Tokyo September 1, 2013. Japan held annual anti-disaster drills across the country on Sunday based on the scenario of a strong earthquake striking the capital and other areas.

Local governments in areas likely to be hit by major earthquakes have stockpiled only enough emergency food to feed each evacuee for an average of less than one day, a survey has shown, prompting officials to conclude that stockpiles at home are the key to disaster preparedness.

The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a questionnaire survey covering Tokyo and 17 other prefectures expected to suffer serious damage from a Nankai Trough megaquake or an earthquake with a focus directly below the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Of the 18 local governments, 16 had collected data on stockpiles of food for disasters based on estimated numbers of evacuees. Survey results show they had enough food stockpiled for only 0.77 day per evacuee on average. Stockpiles of water stood at an average of 0.17 day per evacuee, according to data collected by 11 of the 18 local governments.

The government's Central Disaster Management Council said in its final report released in May on measures for an anticipated Nankai Trough quake that households should each stockpile a week's worth of food and water. As the recent Yomiuri survey has revealed, stockpiles of local governments are apparently insufficient, and local officials and others are calling for attention to the importance of self-help preparations.

The survey was conducted recently to coincide with the nation's Disaster Prevention Day, which fell on Sunday this year. The survey divided the 18 local governments into two groups: one comprises 14 prefectures-Shizuoka and 13 others located west of Shizuoka-and the other consists of Tokyo and three other prefectures in the metropolitan area. The 14 prefectures cover areas in which a Nankai Trough quake is predicted to force the evacuation of at least 100,000 people and where major tsunami are predicted to occur. In the metropolitan area, massive damage is predicted in the wake of an earthquake with an epicenter in the north of Tokyo Bay.

There are no quantitative requirements concerning stockpiles for local governments. Prefectural and municipal governments each devise their own plans on emergency stockpiles.

According to survey results, stockpiles of food in 12 of the 14 prefectures range from 0.15 day to 1.73 days per evacuee. The data for the 12 prefectures include those from municipalities. Stockpiles of water in these prefectures range from 0.05 day to 0.17 day per evacuee.

In the Tokyo metropolitan area, food stockpiles range from 0.33 day to 2.63 days per evacuee. Water stockpiles similarly stand at 0.13 day to 0.34 day.

These figures were calculated on the assumption that three meals and three liters of water should be supplied to each evacuee every day.

The Kagawa prefectural government in its Nankai earthquake damage estimate in 2005 predicted there would be about 10,000 evacuees. Based on this figure, the prefectural and municipal governments stockpiled about 120,000 meals and 100,000 liters of water, enough for three days' worth of supplies. But in its revised damage estimate released in August, the number of evacuees jumped 20 times to about 199,000. Stockpiles now are calculated at about 0.2 day for food and 0.17 day for water per evacuee, meaning that about 40 per cent of evacuees would not be able to receive even one whole meal.

A prefectural government official said, "Although we had considered it unnecessary for residents to have stockpiles of their own, we now must change our position."

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