Tokyo: Know Your Risk

While earthquakes can happen anywhere in Japan, the Government here has been preparing for what could be a catastrophic event right in the capital.

In 1923, the Great Kanto Earthquake killed over 100,000 people in and around Tokyo, in what was one of Japan’s most severe natural disasters on record.

According to the government, there is a 70% chance of a major earthquake directly hitting Tokyo in the next 30 years.

It is estimated that up to 23,000 may be killed, and over 200,000 injured, as well as economic damage amounting to close to a mind-numbing 100 trillion yen.

According to various simulations, damage would be at its worst if the quake struck at around 6 p.m. in winter during winds of 29 kph (dry winter air, high winds, and cooking stoves would make it easier for fires to exacerbate the situation).

So if you live in Tokyo, all of these rather terrifying predictions and simulations should give you reason enough to be prepared…


Here is some basic information to keep in mind as you prepare yourself and your family:

1. Basic “Lifelines” may be down for weeks and/or months. 

In a major earthquake, water, electricity and gas may stop functioning.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government aims to restore:

– Electricity within 7 days
– Water and Sewerage within 30 days
– Gas within 60 days.


While of course the actual time needed to restore these services would vary greatly on the situation, take a moment to think: Would you be able to function without electricity, water and gas for up to 60 days?

*Remember to figure out where your gas mains, electricity circuit breaker, and water mains shut-off points are. Always turn these off if you are evacuating your home.

2. Evacuation Centers in Tokyo 

There are about 3000 official evacuation centers in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, mainly made up of schools, community centers, and other public facilities.

There are also 1200 welfare evacuation centers. These accept people who would have difficulty living in regular emergency shelters and need some sort of special care.

Do you know where you nearest evacuation centers are? Do you have a back-up, in case the primary option is inaccessible, full, or damaged?

3. Emergency Services

On a normal day, the average response time (how long it takes to travel from the dispatch station to the caller) for emergency services in Tokyo is approximately 7 minutes.

Remember that in times of disaster, emergency services (Fire Department, Ambulances, Police) will likely be overwhelmed with callers, and so response time may drastically increase. Your phone may also not be working due to downed communications lines.

Do you know how to get to your nearest hospital? Do you have a first aid kit? Do you have a fire extinguisher? Do you know how to use the first aid kit and fire extinguisher?

For more information on how to prepare, see the What You Need To Do section.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s