Disaster drill held to prepare for feared Nankai Trough quake


The government held a comprehensive drill on Disaster Prevention Day on Saturday to prepare for a potential mega-thrust earthquake originating in the Nankai Trough off the Pacific coast.

The drill was based on a scenario in which a magnitude 9.1 earthquake strikes south of Wakayama Prefecture at around 7:10 a.m. The drill assumed the quake topped out at 7 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale in nine prefectures, including Shizuoka and Miyazaki, and upper 6 in 10 others, including Osaka and Hiroshima.

As part of the drill, all Cabinet members walked to the Prime Minister’s Office in Tokyo, where an emergency disaster response headquarters was set up.

During a teleconference between the Prime Minister’s Office and the Miyazaki Prefectural Government, Gov. Shunji Kono provided a damage estimate and asked for relief supplies and help.

Following meetings between the response headquarters and the Cabinet, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a news conference that the government was doing all it can to cope with the disaster while working closely with the other governments.

Abe called on the public to take action to preserve their lives, such as evacuating to safer places, continuing to monitor earthquake and tsunami information and exercising extra vigilance against fires and falling objects.

After the drill was finished, Abe visited the venue in Kawasaki of a joint disaster drill organized by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and eight other governments around the capital.

The prime minister viewed fire-fighting and rescue demonstrations and, alongside junior high school students, participated in an exercise that involved making a stretcher from a blanket and laundry poles.

“We’ll continue to make every disaster prevention effort to prepare for a possible earthquake directly beneath the capital and the Nankai Trough,” Abe said at the closing ceremony of the joint drill.

According to the government’s damage estimates in 2012, the nationwide death toll from a mega-thrust Nankai Trough quake could be as high as 320,000 if it occurs during the winter and at night. The total number of collapsed and burned buildings could total almost 2.4 million.