New tsunami alerts set to debut


Staff Writer

The Meteorological Agency’s revised tsunami warning system starts up at noon Thursday in order to better alert the public over the threat of massive waves hitting land, a move that comes almost two years after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and vast coastal devastation.

The 3/11 temblor caused tsunami several, even dozens of meters, high to ravage the Tohoku region’s coast, resulting in up to 19,000 lives lost — mainly those who were unable to escape the waves.

Whereas the current system simply issues alerts about possible large tsunami, the new version will begin with a warning stating “tsunami similar to those of the Great East Japan Earthquake will strike.” It will also call on the public to “immediately” flee to safe locations.

The new warnings will also avoid giving specific heights of possible tsunami until an accurate prediction can be made, instead alerting the public of potential “kyodai” (enormous) tsunami. The wording will better reflect the urgency of the situation, the agency said.

The agency will use data collected offshore in addition to what is gathered on land in order to better predict the size of tsunami.

NHK will update its tsunami alerts based on the agency’s revisions. According to NHK, the new system will broadcast warnings on screens that are easier to comprehend by conveying the dangers clearly and providing the latest updates from the agency.

Warnings to avoid seashores will be written in easier-to-read hiragana for children and people who have difficulty reading kanji.

  • I hope we never have to use it but I know we will. I just hope this will save many lives when the next one strikes.

  • Matt French

    I received a notification early on Sunday morning of some kind of new system. None of the information was in English, and more importantly, I could not copy any of the text to paste into a translation application on my Android phone.

    I sure hope I have someone nearby who can translate but I guess I will just follow the crowd of running people . . .

    • nobuo takamura

      Your idea is perfect. But some words are necessary to survive IT. Kyodai (great) is one of them.