Number of tsunami safety towers in Japan increases to 502

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A Tsunami Safety Tower in Kuroshio, Kochi Prefecture | File photo of the Yomiuri Shimbun

TOKYO – A total of 502 tsunami safety towers have been erected in Tokyo and 22 other prefectures up to April last year, an 11-fold increase in the number that existed before the Great East earthquake. Japan in 2011, according to a Cabinet Office survey.

The government subsidizes half the construction costs of the towers, which provide temporary refuge for residents in the event of a tsunami, but the burden on local governments still amounts to several hundred million yen. A study by Gunma University revealed that only 45 such records existed before the disaster.

In 2014, the subsidy was increased to two-thirds in areas where major damage from a major Nankai Trough earthquake is expected, which helped speed up construction of the tower. Seventy percent of the towers are located on the Pacific Ocean side west of the Kanto region, with Shizuoka Prefecture having the most with 139.

Progress is also being made to designate high-rise buildings as tsunami refuges. A total of 15,304 buildings in 37 prefectures have been registered for these purposes, eight times more than the 1,876 before the disaster.

Local governments have requested an increase in the government subsidy for the construction costs of the towers outside the Nankai Trough earthquake zone.

The Liberal Democratic Party plans to introduce a bill that increases the subsidy rate to two-thirds in areas susceptible to damage from a massive earthquake with an epicenter in the Japan Trench and the Chishima Trench. He aims to have it passed during the current Diet session.

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