National | Regional voices: Chubu

Aichi hopes to see million participate in September quake drill

Chunichi Shimbun

The Aichi Prefectural Government — which has been holding the ShakeOut earthquake drill since fiscal 2013 — plans to draw a million participants to a session to be held this year on Sept. 1, the Disaster Prevention Day.

Since the prefecture is expected to suffer massive damage if a major earthquake occurs in the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast, the prefectural government is calling on companies and schools to participate in an effort to increase disaster prevention awareness.

The quake-survival drill was first developed in California in 2008 as a preparedness activity that anyone can participate in. In the drill, participants are urged to “drop, cover and hold on” — meaning to get down on hands and knees, protect their heads under a sturdy desk or table, and hang on until the shaking stops.

On Sept. 1, when the clock hits noon, participants in the drill will drop to the floor all together and stay still for a minute after being signaled.

In the U.S., many such drills are held with millions of people participating. In Japan, the Great Japan ShakeOut, an advocacy group of earthquake and disaster prevention researchers, is campaigning to spread the drill.

Participants in such drills held by the Aichi Prefectural Government have increased from roughly 261,000 in fiscal 2013 to 578,000 in fiscal 2017. However, while many people in schools and government agencies take part in the drills, awareness among other people remains low, and few companies have been willing to participate.

Aichi officials are asking companies, especially manufacturers where many employees work at factories and are likely to suffer a calamity in the event of a major earthquake, to take part in the drill.

Anyone, including individuals and citizens’ groups in and out of Aichi, can participate in the drill. The prefecture accepts applications at its website (aichi0901.pref.aichi.jp) until Aug. 31. If an application is submitted by the deadline, groups such as companies can conduct the drill by themselves on a different day and still be regarded as participants in the Aichi drill.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published May 15.