Japan lacks enough emergency toilets in event of major disaster, survey says

A survey by a Japanese non-profit organization shows only 30 percent of local governments in the country have enough emergency toilets for evacuees in the event of a major disaster.

The Japan Toilet Labo conducted the survey ahead of the centenary of the Great Kanto Earthquake that struck Tokyo and its vicinity on September 1, 1923. The NPO received responses from 332 prefectural and municipal governments.

Flush toilets can become unusable following earthquakes and other disasters, due to a halt in water supplies and other factors. Avoiding the use of toilets is known to raise the risk of illness or even result in death.

The survey found that 76 percent of the respondents do not have post-disaster plans in place to secure and manage public toilets. Twenty-four percent said they had such plans.

Only 31 percent said they believe they have enough portable, makeshift and other emergency-use toilets to cover the presumed number of evacuees in the event of a maximum-level disaster.

Forty-one percent said they expected shortages, while 28 percent answered that they did not know if there would be shortages.

Japan Toilet Labo says preparations are urgently necessary for a possible quake in the capital, as the lack of toilets could lead to deaths.

It says stockpiles are critically short, and public drills are also necessary since most people have no experience using emergency toilets.