National

Osaka plays down need for new safety measures for G20 summit after recent quake

by Satoshi Sugiyama

Staff Writer

Following Tuesday night’s magnitude 6.7 earthquake in northwest Japan, Osaka Prefecture, the host of the Group of 20 summit scheduled next week, isn’t planning additional changes to its emergency safety plans, officials said Wednesday.

Kazuo Fudo, an assistant chief of the Osaka Prefecture’s fire prevention and safety affairs division, said the city of Osaka already has a regional disaster prevention plan, which the city will follow in case of an earthquake.

The G20 summit will convene on June 28 and 29 at Intex Osaka in the city’s waterfront area.

“Intex Osaka is located on high ground, so we don’t think there would be damage due to a possible tsunami,” Fudo said. “Besides, even though it is standing on an artificial island, it is connected to land via tunnels, bridges and expressways that are all capable of withstanding earthquakes. We don’t believe people will be stranded there.”

The central government, the official added, handles safety and security issues for world leaders and key government officials. If an earthquake strikes, Fudo said, they would likely take shelter there or leave the country.

After Tuesday night’s earthquake in Niigata and Yamagata prefectures, Osaka Prefecture established a tentative task force to collect information, said Daigo Yakabe, an official in the prefecture’s disaster control division, adding that such a precaution would be taken regardless of the G20 summit.

The earthquake that rattled residents in four northern prefectures Tuesday night coincided with the one-year anniversary of a major earthquake in the Kansai area, which killed six people and injured more than 450 people.

Yakabe said the authorities will further tighten disaster prevention and security measures next week as it gets closer to the G20 summit. The authorities have already warned residents about the heightened security measures being implemented and coming traffic restrictions that will be enforced.

Osaka, along with surrounding areas, is considered to be vulnerable to an earthquake along the Nankai Trough. The probability of a magnitude 8 or 9 earthquake in the Nankai Trough happening within 30 years is between 70 and 80 percent, according to one study released last year.

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