There’s nothing comical about this manga comic: office building windows shatter, trains derail and cars plunge from buckling bridges. It all happens at 4:35 p.m. on a day dubbed “Tokyo’s X Day.”
This catastrophic scenario is depicted in a 300-page book on earthquake preparedness published by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. The book, which includes tips on how to make fly traps to rid evacuation centers of the pests, begins with a weighty warning: Experts say there’s a 70 percent chance of a quake directly hitting the greater Tokyo area, home to 36 million people, within the next three decades.
“It’s a race between us and the earthquake. And if we don’t win it we won’t be able to protect the capital,” said Professor Satoshi Fujii of Kyoto University, a special adviser on disaster preparation to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet.
Preparations for the Big One in Tokyo have taken on more urgency this month after two devastating temblors struck in southern Japan, exposing weaknesses in the nation’s readiness for such disasters. Lying on the so-called “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines crisscrossing the Pacific Basin, Japan is a nation of quakes, up to 2,000 per year, with densely populated cities. This combination puts thousands of people at risk of losing their lives in a major calamity that could strike at any time.
On April 14, Kumamoto prefecture, on the southernmost of Japan’s main islands, sustained the biggest quake in the country since the March 2011 disaster that killed around 16,000 people in northern Tohoku. The quake, with a magnitude of 6.5, was followed some 28 hours later by another registering a magnitude of 7.3. This kind of double strike hadn’t been foreseen by experts, according to Fujii.
The government should immediately inspect official buildings used as disaster command posts after some in Kumamoto were put out of action, he said in an interview. “Once and for all, we have to take action on the basis this thing is coming,” Fujii said. Earthquakes are occurring at a pace of more than one every 10 minutes in Japan during some hours as tremors still rattle the island of Kyushu, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
There are educated guesses as to how such a disaster might play out. A magnitude 7 earthquake occurring directly under greater Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolis, is a “highly imminent scenario” that may result in as many as 23,000 fatalities and 95 trillion yen ($856 billion) in economic damage, according to the cabinet office’s Disaster Management in Japan white paper for 2015.
The government is aiming to reduce that number by half by reinforcing more houses, preventing fires and attempting to lessen population densities in areas at most risk from an earthquake.
An even more devastating vision assumes a triple-earthquake combined with a massive tsunami that would swallow a large swathe of Japan’s Pacific coast, with damage reaching as far as Tokyo. That might leave as many as 323,000 people dead and result in economic damage of 214 trillion yen, according to the cabinet office. The probability of such a scenario is “extremely small,” but the panel decided to publicize it in order to share lessons learned from the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, according to a final report three years ago.
to be honest..there wont be much anyone can do if they get the big one..parts of the island will just fall into the ocean..
“Experts say there’s a 70 percent chance of a quake directly hitting the greater Tokyo area, home to 36 million people, within the next three decades.”
but the government can protect you!
“It’s a race between us and the earthquake. And if we don’t win it we won’t be able to protect the capital,”
i know who wins that race..