Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Gov't to start new warning system for massive earthquake possibility

The government will start a new warning system from November to alert residents that could be affected by a magnitude-9 class temblor in the Nankai Trough.
The new warnings, based on the observation of foreshocks, will be issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency to residents in central Japan and along the Pacific coast when the possibility of a powerful earthquake focused on the trough, running south of Japan's mainland, heightens.
The warnings will urge residents to check evacuation routes and supplies in readiness for the earthquake and will be issued, for example, when an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or more occurs along the trough or when crustal movements are observed in the Tokai region in central Japan.
The government said in 2012 that up to 300,000 people could be killed in the event of a magnitude-9 quake in the Nankai Trough, and in 2014, it outlined a 10-year program aimed at reducing casualties from such a quake by 80 percent.
The new warning system also marks the first change in some 40 years in the country's policy to deal with a magnitude-8 class earthquake that is also expected to occur along the Nankai Trough.
Commonly referred to as the Tokai quake, it is predicted the epicenter will be around Suruga Bay south of Mt. Fuji.
The new warnings come after a panel of experts at the government's Central Disaster Management Council concluded in its report that "It is difficult to make a prediction (of a massive earthquake) with a high degree of certainty."
Instead of trying to predict earthquakes, the panel proposed the government strengthen efforts to prompt the evacuation of residents when foreshocks or crustal movements that could lead to a massive earthquake are observed. It also recommended that monitoring activities of earthquakes and tsunami be improved.
The report was proposed to state minister for disaster management Hachiro Okonogi earlier Tuesday.
Under the current Large-Scale Earthquake Countermeasures Act, compiled in 1978 to address the expected occurrence of the Tokai Earthquake, when abnormal data are observed, a group of experts decide if the predicted quake will actually strike.
In such a scenario, the prime minister then issues a warning declaration that can impose strict regulation to mitigate damage, such as the suspension of train operations.
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