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Ahead of 2020 Olympics, government to strengthen steps to help foreign visitors in event of massive quake

Kyodo

Ahead of the 2020 Summer Games, the transport ministry said Tuesday it plans to strengthen measures to help foreign visitors in the event of a massive earthquake in the Tokyo area.

The ministry will beef up airports and railways’ quake resiliency to ensure vital transportation infrastructure can remain operational in the event of a major temblor, while introducing more signs with symbols to help foreign visitors locate evacuation routes and areas.

The ministry will also warn visitors about the possibility of an earthquake through its English-language website.

The government expects around 10 million domestic and foreign visitors to arrive during the Olympics and Paralympics, which will run for around two weeks each from July 24 and from Aug. 25, respectively, next year.

The government estimates a 70 percent chance of a magnitude 7 quake occurring directly beneath Tokyo within the next 30 years, and that in the worst case, the quake could kill up to 23,000 people and destroy 610,000 buildings.

Out of concern that masses of people will congregate at shelters near Olympic venues in the event of a quake, the government will increase stockpiles of supplies and prepare measures to ensure the transportation of goods and people on waterways.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry also revised its disaster planning for a magnitude 8 to 9 quake along the Nankai Trough, which extends off the coast of central Japan to the southwest. It is believed that such a quake has a 70 to 80 percent probability of occurring within the next 30 years.

The government plans to create a system to ensure the smooth transportation of goods critical for disaster relief and recovery and seek close cooperation from logistics companies and port operators.

It will also strengthen Technical Emergency Control Force (TEC-FORCE) operations to provide immediate logistics and infrastructure support such as road repair.

TEC-FORCE is a group of workers belonging to the infrastructure ministry’s regional development bureaus nationwide.

As of April 2018, the number of workers registered as TEC-FORCE members totaled 9,663. The government will ask construction companies to provide special training to their employees so they can help with disaster relief and recovery.

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