- Title: JAPAN: Massive disaster drills held across Japan
- Date: 2nd September 2011
- Summary: TOKYO, JAPAN (SEPTEMBER 1, 2011) (REUTERS) POLICE OFFICERS LAYING OUT TRAFFIC CONES TO BLOCK TRAFFIC VARIOUS OF POLICE OFFICERS REDIRECTING TRAFFIC OFFICER DIRECTING TRAFFIC (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 35-YEAR-OLD FOOD COMPANY EMPLOYEE HANAKO TSUCHIMOTO, SAYING: "Since we've become so used to continual aftershocks, I think it's a very important day to ensure that we are prepared for disasters in the future." (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 63-YEAR-OLD DELIVERY COMPANY OWNER KAZUNORI KUGA, SAYING: "This is only done once a year, so I don't think we are adequately prepared at all." VARIOUS OF ROADS BEING BLOCKED FOR DRILLS POLICE OFFICERS RUNNING AS PART OF DISASTER DRILL OFFICERS IN FULL HAZMAT GEAR GETTING OUT OF VAN OFFICERS IN HAZMAT SUITS TESTING FOR GAS LEAKS OFFICERS STANDING ON ROOF OF HOUSE SAWING OPEN A HOLE OFFICERS ON ROOF OF HOUSE RESCUING PERSON FROM HOLE HELICOPTER FLYING OVER BAY MAN PRETENDING TO BE DROWNING BEING RESCUED BY DIVERS AND LIFTED INTO HELICOPTER MAN BEING PULLED INTO HELICOPTER
- Embargoed: 17th September 2011 13:00
- Location: Japan, Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Disasters,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAKY52NNE89L7PRFW3LE9OB1QM
- Story Text: 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.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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