Ishihara ups ante in quake response

by Takahiro Fukada

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara instructed his staff Monday to monitor radiation levels in the capital in the wake of the accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“We will do this immediately,” Ishihara said. While experts have told the metro government the Tokyo area is not in danger of radioactive substances coming over from Fukushima, he decided to take this step to alleviate public concerns.

“Everyone, please feel relieved,” he said, asking residents not to be influenced by groundless rumors and to stay calm. “Together with (other parts of the) metropolitan area, Tokyo would like to overcome this national crisis.”

To assist the devastated Tohoku region, Ishihara also said the metro government will prepare at least ¥10 billion by tapping its ¥1 trillion in savings. “Since we are somehow economically well-off, we would like to repay (the) favor” of the region that has been providing electricity to Tokyo.

Meanwhile, the metro government said people are concerned that the unprecedented rationing of power by Tokyo Electric Power Co. will cause a massive upheaval in the capital in the coming days.

Among these is the Toei subway and bus operations, which may be cut back.

Water is available, although the metro government expects supplies to be cut off, reduced or become muddy in some areas. Sewerage systems will be operating on an emergency power supply, but the metro government said it might be difficult for the system to cope with the event of torrential rain.

Metro hospitals will be run by emergency generators and public welfare facilities will be maintained, where available, by changing their operating hours and using emergency power, the metro government said.

It also said the central wholesale markets will open, but that some operations may be suspended and road tunnel drainage systems will have to run on emergency power. Most street lights will be turned off.

Metro schools may be open when power is available. However, the metro government said that as of noon Monday, the freeze on public transportation prompted the closure of 160 metropolitan and 158 municipal schools.

Metropolitan sports facilities would be closed at night or for the whole day, the metro government said. It also said it was informing residents of public housing that their elevators may be grounded and water supplies cut off.

It also said it was having trouble gathering its officials because train services have been either reduced or suspended. Emergency power systems will meanwhile have trouble securing stable supply of fuel, it added.