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Disaster preparedness in Tokyo

Tokyo’s new guide to disaster survival, “Tokyo Bosai” (“Disaster Preparedness Tokyo”), was published on September 1, last year. It was produced by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG). The B-6-size, 340 page manual, bright yellow, richly illustrated handbook were sent to 7.5 million households in Tokyo free of charge. It has assumed cult status according to a newspaper report and to the anger of the TMG, some copies were even auctioned online.

As though the alarming coloring of the guide wasn’t enough, it opens up with this disquieting statement: “It is predicted that there is a 70 percent possibility of an earthquake directly hitting Tokyo within the next 30 years.” And then directly addresses readers: “Are you prepared?”

The handbook consists of three components: the actual book, a foldable disaster prevention map showing important emergency facilities nearby and a digital resource, with quizzes that raise disaster preparedness and provide additional up-to-date information. Every Tokyo ward has its own corresponding map, and on the back of the guide there is a checklist of important items needed in the aftermath of a disaster, and evacuation flow-chart, as well as contact information and Twitter handles for major relief organizations.

The most popular part of the book is a section with tips about what to do in the event of an earthquake, flood, and snow storm. It also has brief sections on surviving a terrorist attack, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, and even pandemics. In the DIY spirit of “MacGyver,” it shows how to make an emergency toilet if no water supply, change the size of batteries to fit different devices, transform a pair of trousers into a knapsack or how to make emergency baby diapers from plastic bags, and so on. The Manual in English can be seen at www.metro.tokyo.jp/ENGLISH/GUIDE/BOSAI/