Weather alarms to be expedited through J-Alert

JIJI

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency will use the J-Alert satellite-based early warning system to quickly send special warnings to people at risk of meteorological calamities, Jiji Press has learned.

The agency will refurbish the system by the March end of fiscal 2013, so that special warnings issued by the Meteorological Agency are made automatically and immediately available to residents from fiscal 2014, sources said Monday.

J-Alert is currently used to automatically and instantly deliver emergency information such as warnings of massive tsunami, very strong earthquakes or the launch of ballistic missiles.

The messages are sent from the central government to local governments by satellite and then relayed automatically to residents through community wireless systems.

In May, 99.6 percent of municipalities nationwide were equipped with a J-Alert receiver, while 78.0 percent had a device that automatically starts wireless warning systems to quickly relay J-Alert messages.

The device is expected to be installed in almost every municipality by the end of fiscal 2014.

The central government also issues weather and “sediment disaster” warnings, apparently meaning landslides, to local governments, which are left to decide how to relay the alerts to residents.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency judged that special warnings needed to be provided to residents as soon as possible to ensure their safety, the sources said.

Under a system introduced in August, the Meteorological Agency issues special emergency warnings in such events as unusually heavy rain and snow with an estimated occurrence rate of once every 50 years, as well as a powerful typhoon observed only once in several decades.