Fukui, neighbors agree on disaster cooperation

by Eric Johnston

Staff Writer

Fukui Prefecture will jointly participate in disaster drills and emergency planning with neighboring Ishikawa and Nara prefectures in the event of a natural disaster or nuclear accident, in agreements reached Wednesday.

Fukui is home to 13 of Japan’s 48 commercial reactors.

But there has been little progress on similar agreements with neighboring Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, which analysts attribute to lack of cooperation among bureaucrats.

Fukui’s deals with Ishikawa and Nara include commitments to exchange doctors, emergency personnel and volunteers to send food and medical supplies and to help establish shelters as needed.

Nara also agreed to start exchanging data with Fukui on its nuclear disaster response policies and to set up procedures to accept evacuees from Fukui in a nuclear contingency.

Fukui and neighboring Ishikawa, whose Shika nuclear plant has two reactors, have agreed to accept each other’s evacuees in the event of a nuclear accident. They will conduct joint disaster drills and establish procedures for better coordination in the event of a nuclear disaster.

It remains unclear whether Fukui’s lack of cooperation with Kyoto and Shiga would cause difficulties in a disaster, since evacuees fleeing Fukui for Nara would likely have to cross those prefectures. Without deals in place, a lack of expedited transport may combine with other complications to hinder mass movement.

Meanwhile, Hyogo Prefecture is in talks with Fukui about serving as an evacuation center for Fukui residents. Hyogo is in charge of disaster planning for the Union of Kansai Governments, a group of seven Kansai area prefectures and four major cities.

Lack of cooperation between Fukui and Kyoto, and between Fukui and Shiga, is causing local frustrations. Dealing with a nuclear disaster and how to protect Lake Biwa, which provides drinking water to 14 million people, are among the main issues in the Shiga gubernatorial election, which takes place July 13.