JAPAN: ANNUAL EARTHQUAKE DRILLS TAKE PLACE ALL OVER JAPAN.
Date:SEPTEMBER 1, 1999 AND FILE As Turkey struggles to cope with the aftermath of the recent earthquake, Japan is taking steps to prepare for the next killer tremor in the annual nationwide earthquake drill. At Bancho Elementary school, a first-grade class got its first taste of an earthquake drill -- a drill that over 5 million Japanese took part in on Wednesday (September 1). Looking dazed, the giggling six-year olds didn't really seem to know what they were doing.The teachers had to run around the classroom helping some of the more confused children. For the school however, the exercise is no laughing matter. Once gathered in the school courtyard, the school principal stressed to the youths under his guard that a killer temor was just around the corner. "We should be expecting the big one anytime now -- perhaps in a year or two," said Osamu Aoki on a megaphone to the 500 children. But kids are not the only ones to take preparations lightly. Despite grim predictions, a recent government poll found some 34 percent of Japanese are not ready for a major tremor, up 10 percent from the previous 1997 poll. For many of the parents that came to pick up their children at school as part of the earthquake drill they too have lagged behind in their preparations. "Right after the big quake in western Japan, we all worried that another one could hit Tokyo the following year. So I was well prepared at that time but now the sense of impending crisis is fading," Michiko Okuda said. One child was at least spiritually prepared. Asked what he would do if "the Big One" struck, nine-year-old Takumi Iwasaki simply said: "I would probably just resign myself to death." Near the Tokyo bay however, the drill took on a very serious appearance. Ambulance services, the army and the civil service were called to pratice their alloted task in the event of an earthquake. Thousands practiced applying bandages, putting out fires and dragging bodies from rubble. Even Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and Tokyo governor Shintaro Ohara took part in the exercises. With scenes from last month's deadly Turkish quake a painful reminder of the 1995 Kobe quake that killed thousands, the exercises -- held annually on the anniversary of a 1923 shock that virtually wiped out Tokyo -- took on a grim new urgency. That quake, 76 years ago, killed some 140,000 and left millions homeless. And according to government predictions even today, a strong earthquake in Tokyo will cause significant damage. Older houses will collapse and concrete buildings built prior to 1970, before stricter building codes were enacted, will crumble. Fire will spread in densely-packed downtown areas, while land liquefaction and landslides will hit the suburbs. Metropolitan authorities have said that some 7,000 would die and 30,000 would be injured in a quake with the strength of Kobe, in which around 6,400 were killed. (Caption:JAPAN: ANNUAL EARTHQUAKE DRILLS TAKE PLACE ALL OVER JAPAN.)
【1923年関東大震災】Japanese gather belongings and flee fire during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 in Tokyo Japan.
Scenes captured by newsreel cameramen in Tokyo during fire after the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake. Population fleeing flames, attempting to save belongings. Wrecked houses along side of street. Policemen and civilians in street.
Review of the Year: 1923 Date:1923 Review of the Yrar 1923 featuring opening Tutankhamen's tomb/King and Queen visit Italy/Earthquake in Japan/New Waterloo Bridge. (Caption:Review of the Year: 1923)
JAPAN: Massive disaster drills held across Japan
Thousands of Japanese once again grabbed their hard hats and emergency bags on Thursday (September 1) as the country held some of the largest drills ever to mark Disaster Preparedness Day. The drills, the first since the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami ravaged northern Japan, were held under the assumption of a magnitude 7-plus earthquake hitting directly beneath Tokyo. Outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who led the country through the March disasters, once again donned his disaster clothing and addressed a press conference to announce the fictional quake. "Today at 8 a.m. there was a very strong earthquake of magnitude 7.3 with an epicenter located north of Tokyo bay," Kan said. Kan then headed to an emergency disaster response meeting at which newly elected Prime Minister-elect Yoshihiko Noda was also present. While the drills are not new, some response techniques are. For example, this year Tokyo's police department shut down traffic at 97 points around the city for a full ten minutes. While the move did snarl some traffic, some Tokyo residents said the disaster preparedness drills were worth it. "Since we've become so used to continual aftershocks, I think it's a very important day to ensure our preparedness for disasters in the future," said 35-year-old Hanako Tsuchimoto, a food employee who was passing by while the traffic was halted. Others however, such as delivery company owner Kazunori Kuga were more skeptical about whether a simple 10 minute drill could adequately prepare people for a massive quake. "This is only done once a year, so I don't think we are adequately prepared at all," Kuga said. Tokyo's police officers were also out in full force, practicing rescue techniques that included everything from cutting through the roof a destroyed house, to testing for gas leaks in full hazmat protective suits. The full-scale operation included helicopter missions over Tokyo Bay to demonstrate rescue techniques for those stranded in the water, a situation especially meaningful after some victims of the March 11th earthquake were carried out to sea by the receding tsunami. In the aftermath of the March quake, trains shut down and traffic was grid-locked, leaving tens of thousands stranded around the city with no means to get home. To alleviate problems like these, hundreds of drill volunteers donned "practice only" banners and evacuated to local hotels and evacuation points. In the event of a large scale earthquake many or all subway trains come to a halt so Thursday's drills also included participants evacuating from a stranded train with many holding briefcases above their heads in place of helmets. The annual Disaster Preparedness Day dates back to the Great Kanto Earthquake, which occurred on September 1st, 1923 and killed over 100,000 people. (Caption:JAPAN: Massive disaster drills held across Japan)