• Kyodo

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The Abe administration has decided on a set of goals to boost preparedness for major earthquakes and other disasters, including increasing the number of quake-resistant homes and firefighting units tasked with providing emergency relief.

In endorsing the a basic plan to improve disaster preparedness through infrastructure and other projects, on Tuesday Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered Cabinet ministers to “promote related measures both in terms of hardware and software.”

The plan highlights the government’s drive to improve disaster preparedness in the Tokyo metropolitan area ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The plan’s specific goals include raising the level of quake-resistant homes to 95 percent in fiscal 2020, from 79 percent in fiscal 2008.

The administration also decided to address areas where the risk of fire spreading is especially high due to overcrowded wooden houses. These dense zones covered 5,745 hectares in fiscal 2011.

The government will also increase the number of Emergency Fire Response Teams to 6,000 by the end of fiscal 2018, compared with 4,600 in fiscal 2013. These teams quickly provide emergency relief to disaster-hit areas by deploying firefighters from across Japan.

Schools getting safer

The campaign to strengthen public buildings against earthquakes has left 92.5 of public schools certified resistant as of April 1, up 3.6 percent from a year earlier, the education ministry said.

It is the first time the number has exceeded 90 percent since the ministry began annual surveys of public elementary and junior high schools in 2002. School buildings are often designated evacuation centers for local residents in the event of a disaster.

The ministry projects the figure will rise to about 96 percent by March 2015. But it is expected to miss its target of making all such school buildings quake-resistant by March 2016, due to financial problems.

Among prefectures, Aichi achieved the highest ratio of quake-resistant school buildings, at 99.6 percent, followed by 99.5 percent for Shizuoka and 99.3 percent for Tokyo.