Living in Japan

Facilities near volcanoes to make evacuation plans

a7a1e9f0f3832f4466c4a811ada40dc2The Yomiuri ShimbunThe government aims to require evacuation plans for operators of hotels, ropeways and other high-traffic facilities — in addition to local authorities near active volcanoes under constant monitoring — in accordance with a draft bill to revise the Active Volcanoes Countermeasures Law.

The move comes in the wake of a volcanic disaster due to the eruption of Mt. Ontake, which straddles Nagano and Gifu prefectures, last September. The bill to revise the special measures law is set to be submitted during the current Diet session.

After the revision, such business operators will be obliged to take precautionary measures.

The draft bill also stipulates that local governments must stay informed of visitors’ whereabouts by encouraging them to submit their climbing plans, and that climbers will be urged to make efforts to stay in contact during their treks.

Due to intensifying volcanic activity at such locations as Mt. Hakone, which straddles Kanagawa and Shizuoka prefectures, the government aims to quickly pass the bill into law.

In March, the government decided to add three volcanoes to its watch list: Mt. Hakkoda in Aomori Prefecture; the Towada mountain range stretching along the boundary of Aomori and Akita prefectures; and the Midagahara mountain range, which runs along the border of Toyama and Nagano prefectures.

The Meteorological Agency has been constantly monitoring 47 of the nation’s 110 volcanoes, including Mt. Fuji and Mt. Iwate.

The draft bill designates areas around all 50 mountains as volcanic disaster warning zones that require precautions for possible eruptions.

Relevant local governments will be obliged to establish councils to handle such disasters together with police, fire departments and volcano experts.

With the aid of the councils, local governments will discuss how to alert residents of a disaster and evacuate them based on the assumed scale of the eruption. The results will be used by authorities to formulate their respective evacuation plans.

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