The government will try to ensure it can maintain key functions for three days following a powerful quake striking the Tokyo metropolitan area and ask each household to store enough food and beverages to last at least that long.
The proposal is contained in a draft disaster management outline obtained by Kyodo News on Saturday.
The outline prepared by a panel under the Central Disaster Management Council, chaired by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, proposes evacuating schools from the metropolitan area to other cities to secure children’s safety.
The outline requests that the 6.5 million people expected to be unable to return home because of disruption of the transportation system to stay at their workplaces for several days to avoid being caught up in the devastation and to assist rescue operations near their workplaces.
It suggests that schoolchildren be evacuated from afflicted areas by their individual schools.
It proposes that a “silent time” be established during which the use of noisy mechanical equipment, including helicopters and bulldozers, would be restrained to allow rescuers to locate survivors under the wreckage.
The creation of such a window of time was proposed because helicopter noise obstructed rescue operations in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, which left more than 6,000 people dead.
The government intends to give the outline official approval during a session of the council to be held as early as September and compile a disaster prevention strategy by the end of the current fiscal year on March 31.
The outline is based on a scenario in which an epicentral earthquake with an intensity of up to upper 6 on Japan’s seismic scale of 7 hits the Tokyo metropolitan area, with its focus in northern Tokyo Bay.
Such a quake is expected to claim up to 11,000 lives, damage some 850,000 homes and buildings and cause up to 112 trillion yen in damage as well as disrupt operations of central government offices and other key entities.
Experts predict that quakes of this strength occur several times between more violent temblors measuring 8 on the Richter scale, which hit the area every 200 to 300 years.
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