FUKUOKA – The Meteorological Agency on Wednesday downgraded its warning level for Kagoshima Prefecture’s Mount Sakurajima, citing diminished volcanic activity.
With no major eruptions observed since Sept. 17, the agency lowered the alert level for the 1,117-meter volcano in Kagoshima Prefecture on the 5-point scale from 3, which warned people not to get close to the volcano, to 2, which advises them not to approach the crater.
The alert level was raised from 2 in October 2010 and had stayed above that level since then.
Despite the downgrade, the city of Kagoshima said it will continue to restrict access to within a 2-kilometer radius of Sakurajima’s Showa and Minamidake summit vents.
The volcano is located just 4 km away from the city center and some 50 km from the Sendai nuclear power plant that was restarted in August.
With increased earthquakes and small eruptions originating from the volcano following rapid crustal movements, the agency raised the alert level from 3 to 4 on Aug. 15, the highest ever for Sakurajima. The authorities instructed nearby residents to prepare to evacuate.
But on Sept. 1, it downgraded the level to 3 again, saying the risk of a large-scale eruption had diminished.
With no significant eruptions observed since Sept. 17, the volcano saw the second-longest period without any blasts since the Showa crater became active again in 2006.
Sakurajima experienced a major eruption in August 2013, spewing ash some 5,000 meters into the sky.