The Diet enacted a revised disaster countermeasure law on Friday to enable the central and local governments to remove abandoned vehicles blocking highways when major disasters strike, to aid rescue and firefighting operations.
The law also allows authorities to damage vehicles if this is “unavoidable” when removing them, stipulating that the owners would be compensated.
Due to be implemented this month, the legislation also applies to vehicles that are stalled in heavy snow.
Local governments will designate zones where smooth passage of emergency vehicles such as police vehicles and firetrucks should be ensured.
The road law lets road administrators remove abandoned cars at disaster sites but had no provision for vehicles heading to affected areas or on compensation for vehicles damaged during removal.
According to the government’s damage projection for a massive quake in Tokyo, rescue operations might be hampered by traffic jams due to rubble, collapsed utility poles and abandoned vehicles.