Ishikawa Prefecture's quake estimate unchanged since 1997

Earthquake experts say a disaster preparedness plan for Ishikawa Prefecture was insufficient to deal with the damage from the powerful earthquake that struck central Japan on New Year's Day. The plan was based on an estimate made 27 years ago.

The experts are calling for a review of the plan, saying its damage estimate is too low.

The magnitude 7.6 quake last month left more than 200 people dead and caused extensive damage in the Noto Peninsula region of the prefecture.

But the prefecture's disaster preparedness plan was based on a calculation made in 1997 that a magnitude 7.0 earthquake could strike off the Noto Peninsula.
The plan estimated that the damage from such a quake would be localized and it could be categorized as a low-level disaster.

The plan predicted there would be seven deaths, 120 destroyed buildings and 2,781 evacuees. That's far less than the figures for the January 1 quake.

The prefecture had added new estimates for tsunami damage to its regional disaster preparedness plan in line with a government report issued in 2014.

A local researcher on the prefecture's disaster preparedness panel also submitted a request in April 2011, soon after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan, to review the earthquake scenario.

But the prefecture only began the review last August.

Ishikawa Governor Hase Hiroshi explained that the prefectural government had asked the central government for a survey, which is needed for the prefecture to revise its disaster damage estimate, and to disclose the results at an early date.

Hase added that the prefectural government, the Self-Defense Forces and others accurately shared information on the damage from the latest disaster, and the prefecture made the maximum efforts in its response.

Kobe University Professor Emeritus Murosaki Yoshiteru is an adviser to the prefectural government on disaster management.

Murosaki said the prefecture was unable to obtain sufficient supplies and personnel because its damage estimate was too naive. He said he shares the responsibility for this, and a review of how to set damage estimates is needed.