Detours column

More than 1M Japanese take part in disaster drill

Agence France-Presse
This year's drill saw the government simulate its response to a powerful earthquake in central to western Japan

DISASTER DRILL. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe takes shelter under a table as he experiences an intensity 7 (Shindo scale) earthquake in an earthquake-simulation vehicle at the venue of a major annual earthquake disaster drill in Chiba, east of Tokyo, 01 September 2013. EPA/Franck Robichon

TOKYO, Japan – More than one million Japanese took part in a national disaster drill Sunday, Sept 1, as the country assessed its emergency readiness in the wake of a massive quake and tsunami in 2011.

Timed to commemorate the anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 which killed more than 100,000 people, the national Disaster Prevention Day has been held every year since 1960.

This year’s drill saw the government simulate its response to a powerful earthquake in central to western Japan, a major natural disaster that researchers say may occur within 30 years or so.

The government estimates that a magnitude-9.1 temblor would kill over 320,000 people in the worst-case scenario.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and all of his ministers gathered at the premier’s residence and held a mock disaster response meeting, before inspecting a drill site near Tokyo.

A total of 1.33 million people are expected to participate in exercises during the day, Kyodo News agency said.

In central Shizuoka Prefecture, people participated in a drill based on a scenario that Mount Fuji, an active volcano, erupts following a massive quake, Jiji Press said.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude quake struck seismically-active Japan, triggering a massive tsunami that left over 18,000 dead or missing and sending reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant into meltdown. –

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