National

Japanese government begins discussion on contingency plans in event of Mount Fuji eruption

Kyodo

A government panel started discussions Tuesday on how to address repercussions in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area in the event Mount Fuji erupts, with falling volcanic ash likely to push the capital into chaos.

Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak at 3,776 meters and lying about 100 kilometers from central Tokyo, is an active volcano with a history of a number of major eruptions.

The Central Disaster Management Council will assess the speed and scope in which volcanic ash will fall, and its influence on transportation infrastructure and electricity and water supplies, in the case of an eruption.

The 14-member working group at the council, led by Toshitsugu Fujii, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, aims to draw up a proposal within a year that will likely be reflected in local municipalities’ disaster management plans.

The group will assume numerous scenarios, reflecting volume of volcanic ash, wind direction and length of eruption, using references from the previous eruption of Mount Fuji in 1707.

It will assess the accuracy of a previous estimate, made by another government panel, that there would be up to 10 centimeters of volcanic ash in Tokyo in the event of an eruption.

The working group will also discuss steps to discard and store fallen ash from the eruption.

According to historical records, Mount Fuji’s 1707 eruption lasted for 16 days, piling 4 centimeters of volcanic ash near what is now central Tokyo. The mountain has not erupted since then, with no signs of volcanic activity observed since the 1960s.