National

Kochi to merge three nurseries — on higher ground

Kyodo

The Kochi Prefectural Government plans to combine and relocate three day care centers in Tosashimizu that are at risk of being hit by tsunami in the event of a massive Nankai Trough quake, Gov. Masanao Ozaki said Friday.

The decision to relocate the nursery schools to an area 50 meters above sea level was based on predictions that 34-meter tsunami could hit the city, with 10- to 15-meter waves likely to reach where the day care centers now stand.

The prefecture has established a funding system to facilitate efforts by schools to take measures against tsunami disasters, earmarking some ¥2.8 billion out of this fiscal year’s budget by cutting government employees’ salaries.

Under the system, the central and prefectural governments will fund up to three-quarters of project expenses. The estimated cost of constructing a new facility where all three schools will be combined will be more than ¥300 million, and roughly ¥230 million of the total will be covered by public funds.

The prefecture estimates that 122 out of 314 existing nursery schools and kindergartens in Kochi, about 39 percent of the total, are likely to be hit in the event of large tsunami.

Officials predict that 30-cm-high waves, estimated to be enough to hinder evacuation by foot, could reach the current locations of the three day care centers as soon as 10 to 20 minutes after a powerful earthquake.

To prepare for tsunami from a massive quake, the Diet on Nov. 22 enacted a law with special measures to support relocation of public facilities such as schools and hospitals to higher ground, along with certain types of residences.

Gov. Ozaki said, “To prevent the kids from becoming victims . . . we must relocate the nursery schools as soon as possible.”

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