Noda sees urgent need to speed up Tokyo quake countermeasures

Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Monday that efforts to bolster measures for responding to a powerful earthquake in Tokyo must be sped up.

“It won’t be surprising if (a massive quake) happens tomorrow,” Noda said in the Diet, calling quakes an imminent danger.

Noda was referring to the possibility of a major quake striking in the north part of Tokyo Bay. The scenario is one of a few expected to heavily damage the Tokyo metropolitan area sometime in the future. Another is expected to happen at sea in the Nankai Trough off the coast of Tokyo.

Noda said the capital needs to have “disaster measures in place capable of dealing with a massive earthquake that exceeds our previous assumptions, drawing on our lesson from the Great East Japan Earthquake.”

Researchers say that seismic activity in the Kanto region has intensified. since the March 11, 2011, magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Tohoku rocked the northeast and spawned giant tsunami that devastated vast stretches of its coastline.

The government’s Earthquake Research Committee has long been fond of reporting that the risk of a magnitude 7-class earthquake hitting southern Kanto is about “70 percent within the next 30 years” without stating the specific year that the three-decade period begins, and it seldom issues updates to take into account the passage of time.

Noda said the government will compile measures on an administrative backup system to use when a disaster hampers government functions by around this summer, with an overall plan for dealing with a Tokyo Bay earthquake to be readied by next spring.