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Disaster drills were held across the country on Saturday, the 78th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake which reduced most of Tokyo and Yokohama to rubble and left more than 140,000 people dead or missing.

In Tokyo, some 15,000 people participated in the annual disaster exercise, organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government at seven main locations in western Tokyo. Dubbed Big Rescue Tokyo 2001, the drill went ahead on a less dramatic note than last year’s exercise, which caused controversy when the Self Defense Forces participated, on the orders of Gov. Shintaro Ishihara.

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