Oshima to be designated special disaster area: Abe

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited typhoon-hit Izu-Oshima Island on Sunday and said it will be put on the fast track for designation as an area hit by a “disaster of extreme severity.”

The designation would allow communities on the island about 120 km south of Tokyo to receive higher central government subsidies for reconstruction from Typhoon Wipha, which triggered fatal mudslides that destroyed houses and buried residents alive on Oct. 16.

Wipha left 32 people dead and nine missing.

Abe also said the government will review the weather guidelines for issuing evacuation alerts amid criticism that warnings were delayed by extreme adherence to rules and regulations.

“The implementation (of the guidelines) will be improved through such measures as establishing hot lines between the national government and heads of local communities,” the prime minister said.

Abe originally planned to visit the island on Oct. 20 but postponed the trip due to bad weather.

When Typhoon Wipha, the 26th of the year, nailed Oshima, the local weather authority failed to issue evacuation alerts, although the Meteorological Agency sensed an “extraordinary” situation developing and alerted both the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the island, which is administered by the capital.