• Kyodo

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The around ¥337 million worth of fuel purchased by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government from oil retailer associations in preparation for a major earthquake in the capital is not actually in storage, sources said Tuesday.

The oil stockpiles were purchased under a system introduced by the metropolitan government in 2013 ahead of other municipalities, as the capital faced fuel shortages in the wake of the huge earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

Under an agreement reached between the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the associations, ownership of the fuel was supposed to be transferred to the Tokyo government following payment.

But the associations thought the funds were “payments in advance” to be used in the event of a disaster and did not sign contracts with gas stations and oil terminals for the transfer of ownership, only instructing them to set aside fuel without payment.

The associations pooled the money, which was retained to cover the renewal of the contracts with the Tokyo government every fiscal year.

In fiscal 2014, around 900 kiloliters of gasoline and light oil, as well as about 1,850 kiloliters of heavy oil were supposed to be stored as stockpiles at 122 gas stations and five oil terminal facilities, respectively.

But many operators of gas stations and oil terminals said they had no knowledge of the system and had not set aside fuel for the Tokyo government. Some operators said they had not received funds but were expected to supply fuel in the event of a disaster.

A metropolitan government official said the “fuel is secured,” but many operators of gas stations and oil terminals appear unaware of the system.

If the system fails to work properly, hospitals and emergency vehicles could be left unable to function properly in times of disaster.

Takanori Takashima, a senior official of the associations, admitted that they had not handled the issue appropriately.