On the 89th anniversary of the Great Kanto Earthquake, Japan held nationwide earthquake readiness drills as part of their Disaster Prevention Day. The drills were based on the scenario of a magnitude 7.3 earthquake striking northern Tokyo Bay.
The drills were designed to help prepare officials, citizens and various agencies for a worst case scenario if a major earthquakes struck the Tokyo area. The drills were a joint effort by Yokohama, Tokyo and seven other nearby municipalities which simulated an earthquake centered in the Tokyo area. Another drill was held to prepare for any potential major earthquake that the southwestern Japan region of Nankai Trough according to Xinhuanet.com.
The Japan TImes reports 387,000 people participated in the drills. Those participating included government officials, residents in Tokyo and 39 other prefectures and the US Air Force, which teamed up with Japan's Self-Defense Forces to practice logistic support plans. The drills come after the Japanese government reported Wednesday that an estimated 323,000 people could be killed if a 9.0 earthquake occurred, Japan Today reports.
On March 11, 2011 a 9.0 earthquake hit Japan. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami left an estimated 19,000 dead or missing. That same earthquake caused a meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant. A Bloomberg report says that more than 340,000 people are still living in temporary homes since that earthquake and tsunami struck. Of the 22.5 tons of debris resulting from the disaster, only 6 percent has been removed from the affected areas.
A helicopter rescue is part of the disaster readiness drill in Japan.
quotes Nobuyuki Kobayashi, a participant in the drill, as saying "If roads and telecommunications are severed, we can't save lives that would otherwise be saved. That's why it's important to carry out drills using a helicopter." Tsuneko Sato, another drill participant, said, "Because another tsunami advisory warning was issued last night [due to a strong earthquake occurring off the Philippines], I was so worried I couldn't go to sleep."
Isao Nakagawa, a resident of Meguro Ward who took part in the drills, expressed concern over citizens ability to handle the practiced scenario should it become a reality. The Japan Times quotes him as saying "I wonder if we'll be able to act as calmly as we did today if a real quake strikes. When such a day comes, firefighters won't be here to guide us and we'll have to help each other to extinguish the fires." He went on to say he and his neighbors are rethinking their current disaster plans, pointing out "There are no fire hydrants on the street where I live. so it would be extremely difficult to extinguish a fire. We need to hold discussions and consider the best way to prepare for a disaster."