NAGOYA – The Nagoya Municipal Government on Friday took the unusual step of warning tourists that they enter Nagoya Castle’s tower at their own risk due to the building being in danger of collapse in a strong earthquake.
The city said it installed the three signs within the castle grounds as concrete in the multistory building is degrading and lacks resistance to temblors.
The idea of the warning signs came from Mayor Takashi Kawamura, who is frustrated with a lack of progress on restoration works due to opposition from the city assembly.
The city is hoping to restore the castle’s tower, rebuilt in 1959 and which has two fish-like golden ornaments on the roof, using wood.
“If something happened, it would be the city’s responsibility,” Kawamura said. “I’m angry (at the lack of progress).”
However, an assembly member said, “He’s been this city’s mayor for years. Why take such (anti-earthquake) measures now? I’m amazed.”
The signs read: “After more than 50 years, the concrete and facilities are deteriorating. As a result, the main tower has insufficient earthquake-resistant capabilities . . . In the event of an emergency earthquake alert or earthquake, please follow the security guard or staff instructions to evacuate.”
They go on, saying that in the event of a temblor measuring upper 6 on the Japanese seismic scale of 1 to 7, the building poses “a high risk of collapse or destruction.”
Sachie Yokoyama, a 68-year-old woman from Aomori Prefecture who visited the castle with her colleagues, said the signs make her feel a little safer. “If the city is going to rebuild the castle anyway, I hope they spend enough time building a sturdy one.”
The signs, which warn visitors in Japanese and English, were installed at the two gates to the castle and an entrance to the tower. The city is considering adding a Chinese translation to the signs.
Kawamura indicated last month he would seek to ban entrance to the main tower, triggering concerns about a negative impact on the local economy as more than 1.7 million people visit the major tourist spot every year from both outside and within the country.
Kawamura is also pressing for a ¥1 billion extra budget to reconstruct the tower in wood. But in October the city assembly decided only to continue deliberations on the draft budget, which was submitted by the municipal government in June.
The castle was first built in the early 17th century and destroyed in a 1945 air raid during World War II.
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