• Kyodo News

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About 30 percent of buildings at public elementary and junior high schools nationwide do not meet earthquake safety standards, according to an education ministry survey released this week,.

Of the 130,867 school buildings, including gyms, 39,531, or 30.2 percent, were found to be nonresistant to big earthquakes, said the survey released Thursday by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.

The current standards put into force in 1981 require buildings to withstand an earthquake of upper 6 in the Japanese intensify scale to 7.

Only 74,335 meet the quake-proof standards, or 56.8 percent, up only 2.1 percentage points from the previous survey a year earlier, the ministry said.

The findings show that municipal governments, which run those schools, are lagging in their efforts to retrofit buildings against quakes due to financial difficulties.

Despite the ministry’s request that the local governments check the quake resistance of all school buildings by the end of last year as a step toward the retrofit, 17,001 buildings, or 13.0 percent, have not even been examined, meaning more substandard buildings may be found, the ministry said.

In summary, more than 40 percent of public school buildings have not been confirmed to be quake-resistant, a ministry official said.

“It’s a critical situation. Local governments lack awareness of the need for quake defense,” the official said, urging municipalities to take steps promptly.

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