Nankai Trough quake plan to enlist 137,000 for nationwide response


The government has reportedly come up with its first draft for an emergency action plan to cover the dreaded Nankai Trough earthquake, which is expected to inflict major tsunami damage on the Pacific coastline from Shizuoka to Miyazaki.

The action plan centers on a system whereby some 137,520 Self-Defense Forces personnel, police officers, firefighters and other responders nationwide would be dispatched to damaged areas within three days, sources said.

The Cabinet Office is expected to present the draft to the Central Disaster Prevention Council soon, the sources said Sunday.

The plan, based on a tsunami-spawning quake expected to strike the deep ocean trench running from central to southwestern Japan known as the Nankai Trough, designates special assistance measures for the 10 prefectures expected to be hit the hardest: Shizuoka, Aichi, Mie, Wakayama, Tokushima, Kagawa, Ehime, Kochi, Oita and Miyazaki prefectures.

Assuming local authorities and households in the areas will have stocked enough supplies to last three days, a response network will try to dispatching food, blankets, milk powder, diapers and other goods to the disaster-hit areas by the fourth day — without waiting for authorities to request it.

The SDF is to respond by deploying up to 110,000 personnel nationwide, joining as many as 15,750 police officers and 11,770 firefighters.

In addition, civilian ferries would be used to transport personnel to disaster areas from such distant locations as Hokkaido and Okinawa. The quake is forecast to trigger tsunami that could wipe out coastal roads, making it difficult for emergency responders to access damaged areas.

The plan and move to designate the 10 prefectures are based on government forecasts of as many as 300,000 deaths from the feared disaster, with damage likely to significantly overwhelm each prefecture’s police and fire services.

Learning from the serious fuel shortage in the wake of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the northeast, the plan will call on oil companies to form a joint fuel delivery system, and local authorities will designate facilities like hospitals as priority recipients.