First disaster law tweak since Hanshin quake eyed

Kyodo

The government plans to revise the disaster countermeasures law to allow aid provisions to be sent more swiftly to shattered areas by eliminating the need to wait for a formal request from their local governments.

A bill is in the works to allow the central and prefectural governments to decide unilaterally whether to ship supplies to disaster-hit areas when municipal authorities can’t go through official channels because of heavy damage, sources said.

It would be the first major revision to the law since the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

The Cabinet is expected to approve the bill as early as May 11, and submit it to the Diet, the sources said.

A decision to revise the law was made in light of the destruction caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, which literally wiped out local government offices in many towns and cities in Tohoku last March and knocked out communications, they said.

The revision would also set new regulations to facilitate the acceptance of evacuees by other municipalities, allowing prefectures and the central government to organize mass transfers involving multiple communities more smoothly, the sources said.