The government’s disaster prevention panel Friday revised its basic preparedness plan in hopes of ensuring that the elderly and other vulnerable people can evacuate quickly and smoothly, drawing from lessons from the March 2011 disasters.
Under the revised plan, the government will put stronger measures in place to cope with nuclear disasters in light of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant crisis.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed at a meeting of the Central Disaster Prevention Council to take disaster prevention measures in anticipation of a major earthquake directly hitting Tokyo or one predicted to occur in the Nankai Trough off central and western parts of the country.
“We will take all possible steps to prepare for natural disasters with a continued sense of vigilance and protect the lives and properties of the people,” Abe said.
Based on the revision, municipalities are required from April to create lists of the most vulnerable people, including the disabled, to prevent a recurrence of what happened in 2011 when many elderly people failed to evacuate.
Evacuation of people with special needs is expected to go more smoothly if a list of their names, addresses and contact numbers is compiled and shared with neighborhood associations and social workers.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency has found in a study that a little less than 30 percent of municipalities had not created such lists as of last April.
To cope with a nuclear disaster, the government will distribute iodine pills, which help prevent thyroid cancer, beforehand to those staying within 5 km of atomic plants.
The revised plan also expands the area that needs special preparations for a nuclear disaster from 10 km from the facilities to 30 km, and urges local governments to set guidelines such as evacuation areas and means of transportation during evacuations.
Municipalities will also be asked to draw up clear-cut guidelines in issuing evacuation advisories and warnings, given the lessons of fatal mudslides triggered by a powerful typhoon in October that hit Izu Oshima Island.