28% of municipal government buildings still at risk from earthquakes: survey


Nearly 30 percent of the nation’s municipalities had not completed seismic reinforcement work on their main buildings as of the end of 2017, a survey by the internal affairs ministry shows.

Of the 494 municipalities whose buildings fail to meet earthquake-resistance standards, 346 plan to conduct quake-proofing work, make new buildings or relocate. The remaining 148 have not decided what to do. Collectively, the laggards account for 28.4 percent of the 1,741 municipal governments in Japan.

If a government’s main building is unable to function in a disaster, victim certification and other key operations will be disrupted, impeding residents’ efforts to recover.

The survey revealed that the ratio of substandard main government buildings varied considerably from prefecture to prefecture, led by Yamaguchi at 63.0 percent, followed by Nagasaki with 57.1 percent, Tochigi with 52.0 percent, Hokkaido with 48.0 percent and Aomori with 47.5 percent.

The prefecture with the smallest ratio of substandard main government buildings was Shizuoka at 2.9 percent. Shizuoka has made steady progress in preparing for a feared theoretical Pacific quake that might originate in the Nankai Trough.

Shizuoka was followed by Aichi at 3.7 percent, Niigata at 10.0 percent, Mie with 10.3 percent and Tottori with 10.5 percent.

Of the 494 unprepared municipalities, 70 intend to carry out repairs, 265 will construct new buildings and 11 plan to relocate.

The internal affairs ministry is calling on such governments to make active use of its financial assistance program for erecting qualified buildings. The program was established in the wake of the powerful earthquakes that damaged Kumamoto Prefecture in April 2016.

Separately, an annual survey by the Fire and Disaster Management Agency on the quake resistance of public facilities showed that quake-proofing work had not been finished for 23.8 percent of government buildings designated for use as response headquarters in disasters as of the end of March 2017.