85% of Japan’s schools can survive upper-6 temblor, leaving 3,545 that can’t: survey

Kyodo

More than 3,500 public elementary and junior high school buildings nationwide could collapse in an earthquake measuring an upper-6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7, according to a government study.

While the 3,545 buildings at risk is down from 4,614 a year earlier, the speed of reinforcing such structures varies significantly from one region to another, the education ministry said Thursday.

The study covered 122,069 school buildings across Japan.

As of the beginning of April, 84.8 percent of the buildings were found to be quake-resistant, an improvement of 4.5 percentage points from the year before.

By prefecture, Shizuoka had the best rate with 98.8 percent, and 11 prefectures registered better than 90 percent. Hiroshima came in last with 62.5 percent.

While the data for 2011 are not available for all schools in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were hit hardest by the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami, the level improved 11.3 percentage points from April 2010 to 84.4 percent in Iwate, 4.5 points to 98.0 percent in Miyagi and 9.9 points to 72.1 percent in Fukushima.

The education ministry estimates that some 90 percent of school buildings will be quake-resistant by next March, as the government is boosting necessary funding with the goal of making all of them resistant by March 2016.