Big Tokyo quake drill focuses on stranded commuters

Kyodo

The government held a disaster drill Monday in central Tokyo, anticipating that a massive earthquake will leave a large number of people stranded at train stations and on the streets, requiring accommodations to be made available at government offices.

More than 5 million people in central Tokyo were unable to immediately return home after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami struck the Tohoku region.

Up to 8 million would be stranded if a similar quake occurred directly beneath the Tokyo metropolitan area, according to government estimates.

Monday’s drill was conducted based on an earthquake beneath Tokyo Bay registering upper 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in Chiyoda Ward, which includes the Kasumigaseki district where most government ministries and agencies are headquartered.

An upper 6 quake on the 7-point scale is defined as causing some weak buildings to collapse and inflicting moderate damage to normal buildings.

Office workers and others participating in the drill walked to five government offices after gathering at Hibiya Park. At each office, they received emergency food supplies and waited in the halls.

“I’m worried about how to look after customers who cannot go home when a disaster strikes,” said one of the participants, who is in charge of disaster prevention at Daimaru Matsuzakaya Department Stores Co. “Through the drill, I want to confirm our arrangements in an emergency.”