SHIZUOKA – The prefectural governments of Shizuoka, Yamanashi and Kanagawa adopted the first comprehensive evacuation plan Thursday to prepare for a possible eruption of Mount Fuji.
The evacuation plan calls for 750,000 people leaving their homes in 14 municipalities in Shizuoka and Yamanashi due to lava and pyroclastic flows, as indicated last March.
In addition, 470,000 people, mainly in Kanagawa, would need to evacuate because of volcanic ash in the air, according to the latest plan.
The prefectures will continue working on concrete evacuation methods and routes and conduct a joint evacuation drill based on the plan this autumn.
Mount Fuji, a 3,776-meter volcano, straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi and is close to the border of Kanagawa. The iconic mountain, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site last year, has erupted many times in the past.
The 470,000 people live in areas where 30 cm or more of volcanic ash is expected to fall based on data from the previous eruption in 1707 and a Mount Fuji hazard map prepared by the central government in 2004.
In these areas, wooden houses are at risk of being crushed under volcanic ash, which becomes heavy after absorbing rain.
Specifically, 406,000 people are in Kanagawa, 62,000 in Shizuoka and 1,000 in Yamanashi.
The evacuation plan also said that up to 8.85 million people live in areas in the three prefectures where 2 cm or more of volcanic ash is expected to fall, affecting their health.
But the impact of volcanic ash varies widely depending on the direction of the wind and other factors. Actual evacuation orders will be issued based on simulations and observations by the Meteorological Agency.
Regarding lava flows, the evacuation plan divided the region around Mount Fuji into five areas according to the time such flows are expected to reach them.
The evacuation plan does not assume an eruption after a major earthquake, such as a temblor in the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast.