New emergency icon system denotes disaster shelters


Staff Writer

The government has urged prefectures and municipalities to put five redesigned emergency icons into use to guard against tsunami, floods, landslides and other disasters.

The standardized icons were designed to be easily universally understood as Japan prepares for an influx of foreign tourists for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, officials at the Cabinet Office said Wednesday.

The icons indicate emergency shelters and evacuation areas for five types of disasters — tsunami, floods, debris flows (such as from mudslides), fires and landslides or slope failures.

Any given sign will bear the five icons, with circles and Xs denoting their functions.

For example, if an evacuation center bears a tsunami/storm surge icon with a circle under it and a landslide icon with an X underneath, it is safe from tsunami but not particularly designed to withstand landslides.

All areas are urged to use the five icons when erecting or replacing emergency signs, but there is no deadline, the officials said.

The government did not create an icon for earthquakes because evacuation takes place only after one has struck — mainly to avoid subsequent disasters like tsunami, fires and landslides.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry plans to submit the five emergency icons to the International Organization for Standardization so other countries can adopt them.