• Kyodo


A 9.0-magnitude temblor with an epicenter in the Nankai Trough off central and western Japan would cause about ¥220 trillion in damage, more than twice the entire fiscal 2013 budget, a Cabinet Office panel said Monday.

While the figure is far larger than the ¥17 trillion in damage wrought by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the ¥10 trillion caused by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the estimate does not include the cost of fallout if nuclear power plants are damaged in a Nankai temblor, which seismologists predict could occur in the not-too-distant future.

As it is, the ¥17 trillion figure for the March 11, 2011, calamity doesn’t cover the costs of the three reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Last August, the Cabinet Office forecast that the death toll from a huge Nankai quake could top 300,000, compared with roughly 19,000 on 3/11.

The Cabinet Office panel also expects evacuees to number as high as 9.5 million a week after a Nankai Trough whopper because of inadequate lifelines, noting that 40 prefectures could sustain damage to buildings and other infrastructure.

Of the total forecast damage costs, property and infrastructure would account for ¥169.5 trillion and reduced production and services ¥44.7 trillion.

Property damage would be halved to ¥80 trillion if all houses and key structures are made quake-resistant, the Cabinet Office said.

The report also said 27.1 million households would suffer from power outages, 34.4 million people would lose water, and the Tomei Expressway linking Tokyo with Nagoya and the Shin Tomei Expressway, which runs through areas more inland, would be closed.

It also estimates that due to public transport disruptions, some 1.1 million people in Aichi, Mie and Gifu prefectures would be unable to get home after the temblor.

Historically, earthquakes with a magnitude of about 8.0 occur along the Nankai Trough once every 100 to 150 years, with the last one hitting in 1946.

The government will try to establish basic policy steps against future quakes by month’s end.

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