National

Japan sees local government sign-ups for evacuation insurance triple in 18 months

Kyodo

The number of local governments signing up for insurance to cover the costs of disaster evacuation has nearly tripled over 18 months in the wake of major natural disasters over the past several years, according to a tally by an insurance company.

Around 350 municipalities had evacuation insurance at the end of September, making up around 20 percent of the total of 1,718 cities, towns and villages in Japan, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. said.

The figure compares with 125 cities, towns and villages at the end of March last year.

Such insurance services, jointly created by the insurance company, the Japan Association of City Mayors and the National Association of Towns and Villages, cover the costs of setting up evacuation shelters, food and water for evacuees, and overtime pay for government employees among others. After the start of the services in 2017, some other insurance companies have started offering the insurance.

This year alone, wide areas of the country were hit by Typhoon Faxai in September and Typhoon Hagibis in October, as well as torrential rains in western and eastern Japan, causing deaths, landslides, flooding and blackouts.

According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, 915 evacuation advisories and orders were issued in fiscal 2017, more than double the 417 in fiscal 2013.

The central and prefectural governments provide subsidies but only under specific conditions.

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