Spread principle of helping oneself to remain vigilant against disasters

The Yomiuri ShimbunSouthern Kyushu has been hit by record heavy rain. Now is the season in which heavy rains caused by the seasonal rain front and typhoons arrive in succession. It is necessary to stay vigilant to protect our lives.

It has been raining heavily since last month in Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto prefectures. In some areas, the total rainfall has reached a level nearly three times that recorded for the entire length of July in a usual year.

In not a few places, the long period of rain has caused the ground to loosen, increasing the likehood that landslide disasters will occur. Caution is needed because of the possibility that it will rain in the days to come.

Disasters happen very frequently at this time of year. The heavy rain that wreaked havoc on western Japan last year caused the worst rain damage of the Heisei era, killing more than 200 people. In the heavy rain that hit northern Kyushu two years ago, 42 people were killed or went missing, including deaths indirectly related to the disaster.

Riverbanks broke, causing floods over an extensive area. Landslides crushed many houses. Measures against heavy rain must be readied.

To build national resilience, the government has decided on emergency measures to the tune of ¥7 trillion. It plans to bolster mainly infrastructure, including raising and installing levees and expanding erosion control facilities, over a period of three years. In its campaign pledge for the House of Councillors election, the Liberal Democratic Party said it will carry out these measures steadily and swiftly.

There may be many places across the country where flood disasters are liable to occur. As long as fiscal resources are limited, it is essential to promote the installation and expansion of disaster-prevention facilities by determining the order of priority based on the degree of urgency and assumed amount of damage.

Providing routine info key

What is especially important when heavy rain hits is early evacuation.

The Japan Meteorological Agency and other organizations started operating a system in May of announcing the intensity of danger using five levels. Local governments will advise elderly people to evacuate if the level reaches 3 and will call for all residents to evacuate at level 4.

The heavy rain that hit southern Kyushu this time was designated as level 4, and evacuation orders and advisories were issued to more than 1.9 million people. The Kagoshima municipal government made the city’s entire area subject to evacuation orders. In some areas, buses were made available for the evacuation of residents. It can be said that this reflects a sense of urgency on the part of the local government.

On the other hand, the evacuation rate, or percentage of residents who took refuge at evacuation centers, was said to be a mere 0.6 percent. Verification of the actions of local residents is called for.

It is indispensable to encourage residents to thoroughly adopt an awareness of “self-help” to protect their own lives.

In its campaign promise, Komeito calls for the popularization of a “my timeline” system in which residents work out in advance action plans to be carried out in times of disaster. Promoting such efforts will be effective.

It is necessary to carry out policies to sustain people’s efforts to help themselves, including making the danger of disasters known through hazard maps and securing safe places for evacuation. Local governments must call for evacuation without fear of failure and keep in mind the adequate provision of information on a routine basis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 6, 2019)Speech


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