The government plans to beef up its disaster prevention plan by the end of March to remedy its inability to effectively react to landslides, high tides, underground flooding and accidents involving nuclear-powered vessels.

According to government sources, revisions to the plan are expected to be decided Thursday, at a meeting of the Central Disaster Prevention Council. The council oversees the Disaster Measures Basic Law. The move was prompted by the fact that the basic plan for disaster prevention contains few countermeasures for the disasters, despite the multitude of responses laid out for earthquakes and other nuclear accidents.

According to the sources, the council is to revise the basic plan by calling for the expansion of a weather information gathering system and the establishment of an standard for ordering the public to evacuate in case of torrential rainfall.

Landslides killed 38 people and injured 78 others when torrential rain caused by a seasonal rain front hit Hiroshima Prefecture and neighboring areas between late June and July 1999.

The council also plans to promote the creation of a hazard map that would outline areas prone to flooding during high tides after typhoons.

Twelve people were killed in September 1999 when typhoon-induced tides inundated the town of Shiranuhi, Kumamoto Prefecture.

The council is also expected to explore the possibility of making evacuation systems for underground shopping areas or subway stations that could be flooded, they said.

One woman was killed when floods washed into underground shopping areas and subway stations in Fukuoka city in June 1999.

The council will draw up measures to increase public understanding of the danger of underground floods, including the fact that water pressure often seals off doors that lead to the areas. Furthermore, the council plans to have the government collect more information about nuclear-powered vessels from abroad to prepare for potential accidents that could lead to radioactivity contamination, the sources said.

The government is particularly interested in getting information on the size of their reactors. It will also draw up a plan to send a team of doctors to people who have been exposed to radiation linked to such vessels.

The 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that rocked Kobe and neighboring areas and Japan’s worst nuclear accident at a uranium processing plant in 1999 in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, resulted in the drafting of several countermeasures against earthquakes and nuclear-related accidents.

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