State to draft evacuation plans for 29 volcano areas

The land ministry will compile evacuation plans in fiscal 2005 covering people who live around the country’s 29 main volcanoes in the event of eruptions, according to ministry officials.

The envisioned plans will instruct authorities on how and where to evacuate the public and where they should build dikes to direct lava and mudflows away from residential areas.

The government currently only has hazard maps that indicate predicted disaster areas near the volcanoes, including Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain straddling Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, Mount Asama in Nagano and Gunma prefectures, and Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture. Mount Asama has experienced a series of small eruptions recently.

By studying the past eruptions of each of the volcanoes and analyzing pre-eruption signs, the Meteorological Agency will indicate when measures should be taken.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry might include in the plans restrictions on land use for residential and other purposes in areas highly likely to be damaged in eruptions.

Asama quietens down

Mount Asama entered its fourth day of small volcanic eruptions Friday, although they appear to be lessening, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Since late Thursday night, the frequency of eruptions has declined slightly, it said.