Central, local governments to remove abandoned cars in times of disaster


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.

  • J.P. Bunny

    An idea that has been a long time coming. Authorities at the local level don’t have (or are afraid to use) the necessary power needed during an emergency, or disaster. Remember well the Kobe earthquake. The streets were clogged with drivers, and no one willing or able to close off said streets to all but emergency vehicles. The resulting mess should have brought about this plan years ago.