5:40 pm - 07/14/2012
Five cities named alternative capitals in case Tokyo devastated by next Big One
A government panel will recommend that the central government transfer its functions to one of five major cities, including Osaka and Nagoya, if an earthquake devastates the capital, according to a draft interim report.
The other three candidates are Sapporo, Sendai and Fukuoka, a task force studying emergency measures under the Central Disaster Prevention Council said in the draft.
Serious damage to core political, administrative and economic functions could "affect our country's fate," the draft stressed, also calling on the government to make backups of disaster-related data for use at the emergency headquarters.
At present, Tachikawa in western Tokyo is designated to take over if the prime minister's office and other government offices are wiped out by a major quake. But since the area is only about 30 km from the capital's center, it is also expected to suffer severe damage.
The panel picked the five cities because they already have branch offices of the government and Bank of Japan, as well as other facilities that can be converted into emergency headquarters.
Other recommendations include the preparation of temporary shelters in public and private facilities to help stranded commuters, such as those in Tokyo who were unable to return home following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The panel will present the draft at the council's next meeting, and aims to compile a final report by next spring.
Sources: The Japan Times Online