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How does Tokyo put together for disasters? | Living | Metropolis Japan

For many individuals around the globe, September 1 is just not of any specific significance, however for Japan it is a day for remembrance and reflection.

On at the present time in 1923, an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale struck at 11:58am simply south of the Greater Tokyo space. The quake led to widespread destruction of the town together with an estimated 140,000 deaths. It has since seared itself into the consciousness of the nation and is now a day the place the capital and the nation as an entire seems to be to the long run to be able to make sure that it’s ready to face any future disasters nature would possibly throw. 

The United Nation’s newest Habitat Cities Report recognized the Greater Tokyo space as one of many megacities most in danger from pure disasters. The research recognized earthquakes and flooding as the 2 main challenges dealing with the town over the following 50 years — with local weather change predicted to additional amplify the issue. 

Inside the Metropolitan Area Outer Floodway, north of Tokyo. The huge cavernous system protects Tokyo by storing floodwater. Photo: Floodway venture.

Perhaps one of many solely positives to come back out of this historical past of pure disasters is that the town planners, emergency providers and bizarre residents have developed a collection of excellently deliberate precautions and preparations in case the worst ought to occur. Many revolutionary defenses have already been built-in into the town and plenty of assets are in place for residents to remain protected. 


While not instantly obvious, Tokyo is a metropolis constructed on rivers and reclaimed land from the ocean. The common typhoons that go over the Kanto plain in direction of the top of the summer season and starting of autumn can carry torrential quantities of rain to the town’s streets.

As the latest landslides in close by Shizuoka prefecture have proven, torrential rain can carry with it lethal penalties. However, Tokyo has a really ingenious answer to this drawback. Buried 22 metres beneath the town’s streets is the Metropolitan Area Outer Underground Discharge Channel (MAOUDC for brief). Whilst this building might not sound like probably the most dynamic of constructions, it’s the truth is, a multi–billion greenback underground collection of canals, tunnels and even dams that is ready to monitor and divert water from overflowing rivers by way of its channels underground to be able to stop areas of the town from changing into submerged. This flood protection can address an estimated 50mm of rain per hour!


In case of flooding in Tokyo 

Tokyo’s international residents and guests can monitor any incoming typhoons on the Japan Meteorological Agency’s website which incorporates updated data of any approaching storms in English. Foreign residents may also name the Japan Helpline on 0570-000-911 for twenty-four/7 English help.  

Tokyo Fire Department

Tokyo Fire Department


When the 1923 earthquake hit Tokyo, the vast majority of the ensuing casualties got here, not because of the earthquake itself, however from the fires that adopted. As a cramped and crowded metropolis, hearth is a hazard that may unfold rapidly if left unchecked.

The Tokyo hearth division has due to this fact created an enormous variety of workshops the place they’ll ship firefighters out to colleges and enterprise to coach individuals on the hazards of fireside and tips on how to react rapidly and decisively if a fireplace breaks out.

However, being Tokyo, there has additionally been an excessive amount of innovation and consideration by the metropolitan authorities about tips on how to cease fires spreading. The metropolis has carried out a widespread initiative to clear the previous picket buildings and substitute them with fashionable fireproof building to reduce the chance of fires spreading. Tokyo has additionally designated the design of a number of principal roads by way of the town middle to be widened to be able to create hearth break factors round key arteries. Finally, even within the on a regular basis lifetime of bizarre Tokyoites there have been adjustments. Gas cookers in homes at the moment are designed to chop off robotically throughout seismic exercise ought to an earthquake strike throughout a time the place meals are being ready (as occurred within the Great Kanto Earthquake).

In case of fires in Tokyo 

An extra degree of security in your house might be offered by buying a house hearth extinguisher or hearth blanket. These are available at {hardware} shops across the metropolis similar to Homac or Viva Home. The Tokyo Fire Department might be reached on the emergency hotline of 119 and has help in a number of completely different languages. 


One of the few remaining buildings in Rikuzentakata after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. 


On a non-descript road in Ikebukuro sits one of the necessary facilities for protection in opposition to maybe Japan’s largest pure risk of all, earthquakes. The aptly named Ikebukuro Life Safety Learning Center teaches Tokyo’s residents – from elementary college youngsters to pensioners — a few of the abilities they’ll want to be able to survive and shield themselves from hearth, tips on how to give first support in emergency conditions and what to do when an earthquake hits. 

The middle is considered one of a number of dotted across the nation and is without doubt one of the most necessary strains of protection in terms of defending the inhabitants from the specter of earthquakes, training. Tokyo’s metropolis planners have designed buildings with a few of the most superior and leading edge earthquake measures recognized to man. Many of the most recent skyscrapers to be constructed have big hydraulic methods constructed into their foundations to make sure that the buildings are capable of soak up as a lot seismic vitality as attainable and ‘sway’ with the motion of the earth.

However, as the most important earthquakes of 2011 and 1996 confirmed, know-how can solely shield us to a degree however in the end it’s by way of training that individuals are higher ready to take care of and to outlive the consequences of a robust earthquake.

The Ikebukuro Safety Learning Center is simply such a spot. The principal attraction — in the event you can name it that — is an earthquake simulator the place guests can expertise what a 7.0-magnitude quake would really feel like and likewise study the proper place to undertake to be able to shield themselves from falling particles. While the workers are pleasant and interesting, the expertise on the simulator itself is sobering and the message the middle teaches may be very severe, preparation is the very best methodology of safety.

Although the preliminary entrance to the middle could seem daunting for non-Japanese audio system, the middle has gone to nice lengths to make sure that Tokyo’s international residents are additionally catered to. It presents bilingual guides to all the reveals and consists of educational movies which have been recorded in English and different languages. The middle’s workers even have a number of English audio system who can help with any questions.

tokyo ikebukuro s life safety learning center 81364

In case of an earthquake in Tokyo 

Should an earthquake strike, the important thing tips given on the middle are as follows: if you’re at house, to take shelter in an space that may present safety from falling particles similar to beneath a sturdy desk or door body. Wait till the tremor subsides, then examine for hearth hazards, take any preliminary measures to place a fireplace out if one has begun (if that is attainable) after which look to safe an exit. For extra data, consult with the Tokyo Bousai Guide.

Disaster preparedness on a citizen degree

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is without doubt one of the most superior native authorities of its variety in terms of making ready a metropolis for potential pure disasters. As described, the town authorities and the Japanese authorities as an entire have realized by way of very arduous classes of the previous and have created a community of various protections to make sure that the town is in the very best state that it may be when the terrifying and inevitable hits. The cutting-edge know-how and large funding (roughly ¥621 billion in 2020 alone based on Statista Figures)  that has been allotted to organize has Tokyo on the forefront of worldwide cities in terms of disaster prevention.

However, as historical past has proven, funding and technological developments can solely shield the town to a sure level. The training of Tokyo’s residents is the town’s final line and most necessary layer of fortification. Having a inhabitants that’s nicely knowledgeable and who is aware of tips on how to put their very own protections in place actually has Tokyo as nicely poised as it may be. One of the latest challenges has been the demographics of the town, with Tokyo’s growing inhabitants of international residents and preliminary lack of knowledge accessible to them in any language aside from Japanese. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has nevertheless now taken nice steps to alter this and to make sure that Tokyo and her residents stay on the slicing fringe of pure disaster prevention for a very long time to come back.    

Further key disaster preparedness assets for Tokyo’s international residents

Phone Numbers

Emergency quantity (hearth division, police and ambulance) – 119

Tokyo Police help line – 03 5463 6000

Medical Interpretation Services – 03 5285 8181


Japan Meteorological Site 

Tokyo Bousai Guide 

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Disaster Prevention information


Yurekuru Call (Android/iOS) – Provides Earthquake early warning alerts. Available in each English and Japanese.

Japan Shelter Guide (Android/iOS) – Enables customers to find their nearest shelter within the occasion of a pure disaster. Available in a number of languages.

Safety Tips (Android/iOS) – Designed by the JNTO (Japan National Tourism Agency), this app supplies vacationers visiting Japan with alerts for disasters, nearest shelters and evacuation facilities and even helpful Japanese phrases to make use of in case of emergency. 

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