National

Political earthquake in Japan? Nope, just a drill

Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

Getting a large, cross-party group of lawmakers to act in unison may sound like a challenge, but during a Lower House earthquake drill on Tuesday, Diet members moved en mass, reaching under their seats to retrieve white, foldable helmets.

Toshihiro Nikai (center right), secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, tries on a foldable helmet with instructions from a guard during a disaster drill at a plenary session of the Lower House in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO
Toshihiro Nikai (center right), secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, tries on a foldable helmet with instructions from a guard during a disaster drill at a plenary session of the Lower House in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO

The drill, led by Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima, brought together members of the ruling and opposition parties for a lesson in how to use the helmets after they went into use in 2017, replacing the softer cushion hoods that had been previously set up under their chairs for easy access in the event of a disaster.

Conducted late Tuesday, the exercise was just the second one using the helmets since March 2017.

Lower House members put on foldable helmets during a disaster drill at a plenary session of the Lower House in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO
Lower House members put on foldable helmets during a disaster drill at a plenary session of the Lower House in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO

The polygon-shaped helmets, which some social media users said resembled those seen by characters in the “Star Wars” film series, prompted confusion among some members who were unsure how wear them.

Oshima, speaking from the podium, reminded lawmakers that a disaster could strike at any time.

“Please be on the lookout at all times when attending the plenary session,” he said.

Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima (right) addresses lawmakers while wearing a foldable helmet during a disaster drill at a plenary session of the Lower House in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO
Lower House Speaker Tadamori Oshima (right) addresses lawmakers while wearing a foldable helmet during a disaster drill at a plenary session of the Lower House in Tokyo on Tuesday. | KYODO

Emergency kits are a must-have in earthquake-prone Japan and officials say an emergency kit with basic necessities such as drinking water and emergency provisions that can feed a family for at least three days is just one of the many ways to prepare.