disaster prevention/mitigation, yomiuri shinbun

10,000 to participate in Tokyo disaster drills , yomiuri, 1/16/12

A series of exercises will be held across Tokyo from next month to help prepare Tokyoites for the hours after a major earthquake that shuts down public transport networks across the capital.

About 10,000 people are expected to take part in the exercises that will use lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and offer valuable training for stranded commuters and facilities that will be called into action as shelters until transport services resume.

On Feb. 3, exercises will be conducted near Tokyo, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro stations. Participants will temporarily stay inside the stations and other facilities, and use Twitter and other online bulletin boards to share up-to-the-minute information about the situation at these locations.

During the simulation, workers at companies in high-rise buildings also will be asked to refrain from immediately going home and instead stay put.

In Chiyoda Ward, where a slew of major corporations have their headquarters, a similar drill involving companies, a university and primary school will be held March 9.

The basic premise of this exercise will be that an earthquake measuring upper 5 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 has struck Tokyo. The ward office will use radio communications to confirm the damage at these facilities, and urge them to provide shelter to people who are unable to return home.

In line with an arrangement it has with the ward for times of disaster, Senshu University will take in about 100 people who cannot return home, prepare to open the facility to outsiders, distribute drinking water to them and set up portable toilets.

The Tokyo metropolitan government estimates 4.48 million workers and students will be unable to return home if a major earthquake centered under Tokyo paralyzes the capital’s public transport systems. After the March 11 earthquake, many major stations became clogged and overflowed with thousands of people waiting for train and bus services to resume so they could get home.

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2 courses to show the way

Authorities recommend that people stay put and do not move around more than necessary after a major earthquake. But for parents of small children and caregivers of elderly people who require assistance, this might not be an option.

To help such people prepare for an emergency trek home, two courses will be set up in Tokyo’s western suburbs in an exercise to be held Feb. 4. One 10-kilometer course will run from JR Shinjuku Station to Momoi Harappa Koen park in Suginami Ward, while a 13-kilometer-route will stretch from a sports park in the city of Chofu to Nishiki Chuo Koen park in the city of Tachikawa.

These routes are being organized by the Tokyo Employers’ Association, the Rengo Tokyo organization of trade unions and other groups.

“By walking these courses, people can check where rest areas, toilets and danger spots are,” a member of the organizing committee said. “I hope participants will think about the sort of items they would need to carry in a real emergency.”

Walkers will start both courses at 10 a.m.
(Jan. 17, 2012)

About liz

from the u.s., recently moved from kobe to sendai, japan, researching community-based housing recovery after disaster.

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