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Response to earthquakes, wind and water related disasters, and other disasters

Essential Info

Plan Your Trip

Japan is subject to many wind and water related disasters due to the fact that much of the land is steeply inclined and experiences a lot of rain. In addition, typhoons also hit Japan from summer to fall. Located in an area where many continental plates meet, Japan also experience earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Although Japan is a disaster-prone country, there is no need to be overly concerned. Many disasters are small in scale, and we have accumulated knowledge on how to deal with disasters through past experience. Disaster drills for various types of disasters are held on a regular basis, both publicly and privately.
However, if you encounter a major disaster, please respond to the situation with the following points in mind.

Response when you encounter an earthquake

Much direct damage or secondary disasters are caused by an earthquake. The collapse of buildings, fires, tsunami, injuries, difficulty in traveling, and shortages of commodities due to such damage are typical examples of such damage or secondary disasters. If you experience a large earthquake, please adhere to the following principles.

Advance preparation

When you stay in a hotel or inn, check the escape route. Public facilities, accommodation facilities, and department stores in Japan are currently obligated by law to establish an emergency evacuation broadcast system or to secure escape routes.

When you feel large shaking or receive the Earthquake Early Warning

First, give the highest priority to the safety of your family and yourself. Protect your head by getting under a sturdy table or other object. It is dangerous to rush outside, because there is a high risk that glass shards or building materials will fall on you, not to mention the danger of collapsing buildings.

Extinguish all sources of fire

Fire is the most dangerous secondary disaster caused by an earthquake. In the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, many people died not only due to collapsing buildings but to fire. Extinguish cooking fires or cigarettes immediately.

Obtain accurate information

Inaccurate information such as rumors and speculations tends to increase shortly after a major earthquake. Pay attention to information provided by the news media, municipal governments, fire department, or police. If there are no such information sources near you, obtain information from a source that is as closely related to a public institution as possible. If you are staying in a hotel, consult with the front desk.
In addition, telephone connections become difficult immediately after a large-scale earthquake. During the Great East Japan Earthquake 2011, Internet services such as twitter were more useful than telephones. Although Internet connections through mobile devices can provide much information, use such devices after confirming that you are in an environment where they can be charged. In addition, once you secure a means of communication, contact the embassy of your country without delay.

Secondary disasters such as tsunami

Secondary disasters that occur after the quake also characterize major earthquakes. If you are near the coast, there may be a risk of tsunami. In places that have historically been hit by large tsunamis, people have learned to decide on a meeting place for family members and to run to that place without thinking when a quake occurs. Based on the experiences during the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, systems to provide emergency guidance are now being established in places where there is a possibility of tsunami. Although evacuation guidance will be provided, head for higher ground immediately if you sense an abnormality in the flow of people or signs from the ocean.
If a fire occurs, nearby parks or schools will become evacuation facilities.
A shortage of commodities due to the interruption of water, gas, and power supplies or traffic disruptions may also occur. If you are staying in a hotel, obtain directions from the front desk. If you are in other places, visit the municipal government in the area for directions. In addition, when you evacuate, take any food and drink you have on hand with you.
If you encounter an earthquake while you are outside in an urban area, traveling will become very difficult due to traffic disruptions. Head for a nearby evacuation site by asking people around you for the location where accurate information can be obtained. All large parks will become evacuation site in emergencies.

Response when encountering wind and water
related disasters or abnormal weather

Wind and water related disasters such as typhoons or torrential rain sometimes cause flooding, mudslides, or other large-scale disasters. Since rain and wind are things we commonly experience, they tend to be considered less serious than earthquakes. However, they have caused much damage in Japan. If you actually encounter strong wind or rain, please pay attention to the following points.

Advance preparation

Check weather forecasts on a regular basis. If much rainfall is predicted in nearby areas by precipitation forecast, obtain information from the front desk of the hotel where you are staying or the Internet.
Be extra careful if you are staying in an area near a large river or an area with steep terrain. Even if rainfall on a plain is small, there is a risk of flooding if there is much rainfall in an upriver region.

If you actually encounter strong wind or rain

If a typhoon is approaching or a warning has been issued, it is not safe to go out. This particularly applies when you encounter rain or wind that seems abnormal.

If flooding occurs

When water levels are abnormally high and the risk of flooding increases, evacuation instructions will be issued. Evacuate without delay, following the instructions provided.

Cabinet Office

Tokyo Metropolitan Government

Kawasaki City

BOSAIMIE (MIE Disaster Prevention)

Additional link
Safety Tips for travelers