Preparation essential as major earthquakes can affect all areas of Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun Asia News Network

What is the probability of a major earthquake striking each part of the nation? The government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion has unveiled its 2014 version of a geographical forecast for massive quakes nationwide, a color-coded map based on the most up-to-date knowledge and expertise gained through the study of seismic activity in all parts of the country. The map uses a certain color to indicate the degree of earthquake risk in each area. A glance at the map shows us that no region in this nation is free from the risk of seismic disaster. The map is another sharp reminder that Japan is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone archipelagoes. With this in mind, it is important to utilize the map as a tool for devising measures to reduce earthquake disaster damage in each part of the county. One of the stark forecasts given by the map is the probability that a quake registering lower 6 or higher on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7 �X an earthquake that can destroy some buildings with low quake resistance �X will strike within 30 years. The data in question shows that no further delay may be permitted in taking necessary measures. A case in point is the likelihood that a quake with an intensity of lower 6 or higher will take place around city government buildings in any of the nation’s prefectural capitals. The probability stands at an overwhelming 78 percent in Yokohama, followed by Chiba at an also significant 73 percent, and Mito and Kochi both at 70 percent. The figure for the Tokyo metropolitan government building complex is 46 percent. Contributing to a higher probability of strong seismic vibrations originating in the Kanto region is a massive earthquake feared to hit an area along the Sagami Trough, which extends from Sagami Bay to waters off the Boso Peninsula. Despite the urgent need for measures to cope with the situation, some municipal governments have not done enough to improve the earthquake resistance of their buildings. This is disconcerting because these facilities will be used as centers for disaster management in the event of a major earthquake. These buildings include the Yokohama city government office, which was built more than 50 years ago. There are concerns about its state of deterioration. We hope all local governments will study the latest seismic prediction map and make steady progress in ensuring their communities can better resist the impact of powerful earthquakes.