Central Japan to use common grid system

SDF, police and coast guard will adopt identical map references


The Self-Defense Forces, police and the Japan Coast Guard’s regional office in central Japan will use a common coordinate system to speed up the dispatch of relief units in emergencies, according to sources.

The Ground Self Defense Force 10th Division, the Chubu Regional Police Bureau and the 4th Regional Coast Guard Headquarters, all of which are based in Nagoya, will adopt the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) Grid used by the SDF, the sources said.

They agreed to take the step to more quickly identify places with major damage from incidents such as strong quakes, large-scale accidents or terrorist attacks, and dispatch relief units immediately.

Responding to their move, the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan is preparing to make a map with UTM Grid zones and publicize it on the Internet, according to the sources.

The SDF, police and coast guard in other regions have yet to adopt a common coordinate system, but a Geospatial Information Authority official said the UTM grid is likely to become the national standard in disaster response and prevention activities.

The need to use a common coordinate system has been raised during disaster drills in central Japan, where municipalities and public organizations and other groups form a joint conference for discussions on strategies to cope with a possible giant quake in the Nankai Trough in the Pacific.

The three central Japan bodies will use a common grid map to be prepared by the coast guard’s headquarters in Nagoya. The map will show each organization’s facilities, hospitals, heliports and emergency transportation roads with UTM grid coordinate numbers.

Volunteers triple


The number of people who volunteered for disaster relief activities in Japan from October 2010 to October 2011 probably topped 4.3 million — more than triple the amount logged in the 2006 survey, the government said Monday.

According to the 2011 survey, an estimated 4,317,000 volunteers helped survivors of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and other natural disasters, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

The ministry made the estimates by analyzing the results of a survey conducted into the social lives of about 200,000 Japanese aged 10 or older in 2011. The results were released ahead of the 18th anniversary Thursday of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, designated as a day for disaster prevention and volunteering in Japan.

The 1995 temblor ravaged Kobe and its vicinity, resulting in the loss of more than 6,400 lives in western Japan.

By sex, there were about 1.84 million male and 2.48 million female volunteers, with men participating for three hours and four minutes a day on average and women 1 hour and 47 minutes.

Of the total, 74.4 percent volunteered to work for one to four days during the period.

Of the approximately 200,000 people covered in the survey, 3.8 percent took part in disaster relief, up 2.6 points from the previous survey that examined people’s volunteer activities in the one-year period through October 2006.