March 9 2021
TOKYO — The Japanese government has approved a bill to simplify calls for residents to evacuate in the event of a natural disaster to help people flee in time.
The revision of the disaster control law will abolish evacuation recommendations that are currently issued early during torrential rains and floods, with the authorities only issuing evacuation orders to simplify the warning system.
The legislation will also expand measures to help the elderly and the disabled to evacuate. The government aims to have it take effect from this year’s rainy season in early summer.
At present, evacuation advisories are issued early to provide ample time for residents to escape to safety. However, many fail to flee due to a lack of understanding over how the warning system works and wait for evacuation orders, which are issued when the situation worsens.
It will be the first change to the system for calling for evacuations since recommendations and orders were stipulated in the 1961 law.
Municipalities will also be obliged to make efforts to draft in advance tailor-made evacuation plans for those deemed “vulnerable,” such as the elderly or disabled.
The elderly population made up around 60 to 80 percent of deaths and those who went missing during the torrential rains and floods in western Japan in 2018, Typhoon Hagibis in 2019 and the downpours that hit the Kyushu region in the southwest last July, according to the Cabinet Office.