• Kyodo

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— Yamanashi Prefecture held its first comprehensive disaster-preparedness drill Sunday focusing on a possible eruption of Mount Fuji, an active volcano on the prefecture’s border with Shizuoka Prefecture.

Sunday’s drill followed one by Shizuoka last month, which involved a scenario of volcanic earthquakes sparked by an eruption. The drill was aimed at ensuring efficient communications between administrative offices and enhancing radio contacts with local residents.

Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest peak, has been the focus of attention in recent months due to low-frequency tremors detected beneath it since last fall. The 3,776-meter volcano last erupted in 1707.

Fifty-eight groups comprising some 15,000 people participated in the Yamanashi drill. They included 10 municipalities around the mountain as well as tourism-related and disaster-prevention groups. Some 3,500 people took part in the exercise at the drill’s main venue in the Yamanashi town of Kawaguchiko.

The Cabinet Secretariat, Cabinet Office and Fire and Disaster Management Agency personnel assisted in communications operations. The drill also involved the supervision of evacuations of residents in sightseeing boats, as well as rescue efforts by disaster-prevention helicopters from Gunma, Saitama and Nagano prefectures.

Sunday’s drill assumed the Japan Meteorological Agency had had to issue an emergency alert and subsequent evacuation order to the residents of the municipalities. The drill began at 7:30 a.m. and included a road closure caused by lava flow and ash fall, as well as the outbreak of forest fires and mudslides.

Ahead of the drill, Yamanashi Gov. Ken Amano and others offered a silent prayer in remembrance of the victims of the eruption of Mount Unzen in Nagasaki Prefecture 10 years ago.

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