In the Japanese capital, Tokyo, the threat of another devastating earthquake hangs over the twelve million people who live there.
In the Japanese capital, Tokyo, the threat of another devastating earthquake hangs over the twelve million people who live there. Japan is on the earthquake fault line which stretches to the southern pacific, and scientists predict that more quakes are likely.
The Japanese government is taking the earthquake predictions seriously. Earlier this month, it announced that more than GBP 1,700 million (1,200 mill. yon) is to be spent over the next five years in an effort to make Tokyo as invulnerable to serious earth movement as possible. Stricter construction regulations are being introduced for buildings over ten metres high and existing buildings are to be strengthened. Escape and rehabilitation areas will also be marked out and prepared for use in the event of an earthquake.
Scientists have been carrying out tests to determine the amount of movement in Japan for many years. And most of their findings point to major disruption within the next ten to fifteen years. point to a major disruption within the next ten to fifteen years. Some experts who have studied recent photographs taken by a United States observation satellite say that a fault line appearing to split the kanto Plain around Tokyo and Yokohama will be the cause of a major quake.
Less scientific predictions stem from a strong belief held by many Japanese that history will repeat itself. They fear that a massive earthquake will occur on the anniversary of the disastrous Kanto Plain quake which struck on September 1st 1923-fifty years ago.
Most of Tokyo and nearly all of Yokohama were levelled and the collapsing buildings caused many serious injuries. But it was the resulting fires which spread from cooking stoves that were responsible for most of the estimated 140,000 deaths. The risk from fire today has been greatly reduced by the improvement in fire-fighting equipment and communications.
What government officials fear most now is that the overcrowded population of Tokyo would be unable to flee to safety. With few open spaces left on the ground, the people of Tokyo are forced to live in multi storied homes, and even roads and railways are stacked at three or four levels.
SYNOPSIS: Fire services and communicating have been greatly improved ??? the 1923 quake when fires ??? the city.
Many private businesses are taking their own precautions. At this bank in central Yokohama, the staff are being trained to put up anti-tidal wave barriers. Yokohama bore the brunt of the 1923 quake ad the bank wan one of the first businesses to make emergency arrangements.
Stocks of food and mineral water are stored inside the building along with emergency equipment.
Despite the precautions, experts fear that If a quake does come, the death toll could still be as high as half a million.
Twelve million people live in Tokyo and some experts believe that the task of providing for their safety will require much more than a five year programme.