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Mount Fuji is seen from the Izutagata area in Shizuoka Prefecture. Image: Yoshitaka/Pixtaaka
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Avoiding a catastrophe if Mount Fuji erupts after major quake

47 Comments
By Miyuki Murakawa

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Mt. Fuji is overdue for a major eruption. The effects would be catastrophic considering the population density around the mountain. The eruptions in Asia over the last few decades have not been in heavily populated areas so there is little to compare with. Unfortunately, with Mt. Fuji, it’s not a matter of if it erupts. It’s a matter of when it erupts. There are around 40 million people living within 50 kilometers of the volcano. A major eruption could easily kill millions of people.

10 ( +19 / -9 )

The country is far from being prepared for a catastrophic event.

5 ( +17 / -12 )

@wallace: No country is. Japan is in a far better position than many others.

16 ( +29 / -13 )

The Kanto area is well overdue for large seismic activity.Unfortunately, it will come and the majority won’t be prepared.

Inagine millions of people not having enough food?

Always having several bottles of drinking water, protein bars,dried fruit etc is a good first step.

Electricity and water won’t be available so imaging the impact of that is worth some of our time too.

13 ( +18 / -5 )

@wallace: No country is. Japan is in a far better position than many others.

Japan has gotten a heck of a lot better in the years since the Hanshin earthquake, and even since Tohoku.

No country, as you know too it seems, is "perfect" and just keep in mind who you are replying to and it makes things easier to understand!

9 ( +18 / -9 )

"Scientists warn that even Tokyo, 60 miles away, could be shut down within as little as three hours of an eruption on the same scale as the last one. Although Fuji has been quiet for more than 300 years, a future eruption could come with little or no warning. Mar 30, 2023"

7 ( +13 / -6 )

When the nuclear disaster happened in Fukushima, 155,000 people had to be evacuated. One million people live within 30 km of Fuji.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

In the last decade, this country has dealt with a catastrophic Tsunami, Nuclear disaster and global pandemic If any country knows how to deal with natural disasters, it's contemporary Japan.

You can only negate natural disasters like huge earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to a certain extent, but if I could choose to be in any country during a disaster, it would be here. There are certain rather conspicuous countries I'd not trust to function with a sense of solidarity and common good, but Japan is definitely not one of them.

15 ( +22 / -7 )

There is a large mistake in the title of the article, not "if" but "when" is more appropriate thinking.

IF people keep thinking IF, nothing will change, IF people and authorities change their thinking to "when" and prepare for it, things will still be a cluster fruck, but hopefully not as bad.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

I forgot to add ‘bicycle.’

When roads are full of debris ( or lava) and the Yamanote line is not running then that’s the best way to get around.

A sturdy lock is also needed as many others will have the same idea.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

This is “slow news day” material. Every few years, some weekly magazine or wide-show rolls out the “Fuji is going to erupt!” Screed.

There is no indication that Fuji is entering a period of volcanic activity, and if it did. There’s little that could be done to mitigate the effects.

So keep calm and climb Fuji again next year.

0 ( +12 / -12 )

The eruption, which is estimated to have left a layer of volcanic ash about four centimeters thick in the center of Tokyo, had a disastrous effect on the people living in the immediate region, causing agricultural declines and leading many to die of starvation.

But apart from that everything was OK.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

One of the central tenets of decentralization was to have the capability to still function as a nation, but as seen from recent articles, all prefectures of Japan will be experiencing a decrease in population except Tokyo; which will be increasing. Like the low birth rate and aging population problem, this was known decades ago, but the LDP hasn't taken any firm action on this and has been kicking it down the road while concentrating on lining their pockets. Kurosawa in all his artistic genius has a film called 夢 / Dream, that depicts Fujisan erupting.

7 ( +12 / -5 )

So Tokyo could become the next Pompeii? Leave it and dig it up in 2000 years time.

On a more serious note natural disasters are a fact of living on Earth. Yes it is a case of when not if but good forward planning and preparation on both the personal and institutional level can help to mitigate the effects. Of course reversing the flow of people in to the area is the obvious way of reducing the risk but politicians will never do that. Such repopulation of the neglected rural hinterland would be beneficial to the economy, reduce risk and improve the lives of the population, so that won’t happen, no corporate benefit involved or brown evvalopes in such a policy!

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Mount Fuji erupting . . . Now there’s a scary thought.

It would be like Mt. Vesuvius and Pompei.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

The amount of ash and CO2 emitted from such an eruption will have quite an effect on climate change.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

if Mount Fuji erupts after major quake

And I have a better chance of winning the Lotto. Must be a slow news day.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

There is also the Nankai Earthquake.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Excellent article for front page news during the holidays.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I am sure Seismologists in Japan and around the world are closely monitoring Fuji San, if it rumbles and disturbs some rocks they will know, so if any think starts to build up, the authorities will be notified, this is when you start to slowly evacuate. But it's better to be prepared than completely unaware.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

As somebody said, a slow news day story. While Fuji is not extinct, it is very well monitored and there’d be a fair amount of warning. Around 2000 there were some very minor tremors and it was big news. Yes it may well erupt but they’ve been talking about the Nanksi Trough quake for decades…

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Seismologists and government at different levels from local to prefectural to national can monitor Mt Fuji but little can be done to avoid disruptions and casualties if it erupts. As for a 'fair amount of warning' as el asserts, what on earth are people whose lives, land, housing and jobs are located within the danger zones going to do - suddenly stop everything and flee due to the high possibility of Fuji blowing before it actually happens?

People will continue to stay living in these areas until it actually happens which is the same as every major disaster. Plenty of people have been killed by massive rockfalls and mudflows during heavy rain in Japan and their houses broken like matchsticks. They knew their areas were danger zones but there was not much they could do as there were no transportation arrangements in existence to take the old populations away when the situation look as if it was going to develop.

A real eruption of Fuji will probably see a heavy blanketing of surrounding areas in Kanagawa and Tokyo To with ash and other dust. Don't assume life will go on as usual if we don't live in Shizuoka if Fuji erupts during our lifetime. Transportation and commerce will be heavily disrupted and the air quality will be a health hazard.

As for the genius who thinks they're going to ride a bicycle far enough to be comfortable on roads full of debris and lava flow as well as breathing in toxic air, don't bank on it.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Gosh, hope that didn’t spoil your Xmas breakfasts.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

What's the town in the foreground of this photo?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Wow way to damper the Christmas spirit. Great timing.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

If you worried about everything that might go wrong you'd never do anything in life and be too scared to leave your house!

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Possibly stupid linguistics/terminology comment, but I thought Fuji was "dormant", not "active". My impression of "active" is Sakurajima, which still sends up plumes of ash every now and then.

If erupts, it could be very nasty indeed. Hikers on the mountain had rocks raining down on them at the smaller eruption at Mt. Ontake 10 years ago. Mt. Fuji would be a whole different scale up.

Mt. Fuji is on the Fossa Magna isn't it. Its a strip of land created by volcanic eruptions. Honshu was originally two islands split north and south but was joined by a bridge of land produced by (absolutely massive) undersea volcanoes. At the north end, this produced the mountains known Myoko, Hiuchi and and Yakedake. Mt. Fuji is the south end.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When the F1 Grand Prix was hed at Fuji Speedway, the traffic bottlenecks were horrific for people trying to get home.

There's only about one long narrow road winding down from Fuji to the sea on the whole south side. Even without unpredictable lava flows, most people would be stuck and unable to escape.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Dolma and gloom on Christmas Day, whatever next?

well. I don’t even worry about this type of thing you see. If it happens it happens doesn’t it.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

What's the town in the foreground of this photo?

Kannami.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

One thing Japan has a lot of is empty houses. I was thinking that if there was an eruption and thousands of people had to be evacuated, perhaps they could move into some of these homes. Easier said than done I guess. I know many of the houses are old and need some TLC, but it beats sleeping on a gym floor surrounded by cardboard boxes.

Was just reading about the history of Fuji eruptions. The Gotemba mud flow event 2300 years ago and the Jogan eruption in 864 would be absolutely catastrophic if they happened today. The 1707 eruption, triggered by an earthquake, was classified as Plinian, which is rare, and happens when two different types of magma mix together.

Anyways, I think in the next 100 years, an earthquake should be considered probable and the government should urge "caution" like it did during Covid-19.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Doom and gloom on something we have no control over on Christmas. Excellent timing for a press release.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

We live 400 km west of Fuji. A major eruption and wind blowing west would bring ash. But the loss of Tokyo would affect everyone.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

I want a job crying doom and gloom about volcanoes. If you're right, you're a genius. If you're wrong, well, it's a nuanced field and difficult for non-experts to understand why you can always correctly identify the date.

Either way, you get paid!

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

I'm not seeing any 'doom and gloom', just some forward-thinking experts with experience of past disasters, looking to mitigate a future earthquake and concomitant eruption of Mt Fuji. What's not to like?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Though it is not about eruption but it's related about the situation in Japanese movie "Survival Family"

Make sure you keep on walking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I didn’t see any useful advice for what to do if it happened. Did i miss?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This is a step in the right direction. Standards should be established. Then goals set to achieve them. Drills and testing to measure progress. Perhaps, the Diet could take up the issue and pass some laws about the basic readiness requirements. It all seems a bit lackadaisical.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As for the genius who thinks they're going to ride a bicycle far enough to be comfortable on roads full of debris…

This genius did just that after the Kobe tremblor in 1995.

Far better than walking and far better to escape from lava flows too

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Good looking if the poster who said they escaped by bicycle after the Kobe earthquake did do that. Obviously they were lucky that they lived in an area where the damage wasn't enough to stop them.

However, eruptions and lava flows and the resulting high speed damage actions are worse than the terrible mudflows that in the recent past have killed too many Japanese people in similar areas to those in Shizuoka and Yamanashi within Mt Fuji's range. Sadly people had neither time nor any physical way through to escape on their bicycles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I didn’t see any useful advice for what to do if it happened. Did i miss it?

The authors mention examining the locations and capabilities of hospitals to determine the best ones to use as headquarters in the event of an emergency. There was a discussion the team identifying ways communications break down during such emergencies. Identifying a problem is the first step in solving it. The team mentioned that in the frenzy to respond to the earthquake they ignored warning signs that Fuji would erupt. That too is a lesson learned and one suspects that the next time the Tokyo region is subject to a major earthquake there will be deliberate efforts to monitor Fuji, just in case.

You want to have your failures and mistakes during these exercises, learn from them, institute better procedures and equip as necessary based on what you learn. They are extremely valuable activities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you think Tokyo is in danger from Fuji, examine the situation today in Naples Italy. The city is sitting immediately adjacent to the caldera of the Campi Flegrei volcano. Most of it is underneath the Gulf of Pozzuoli, but if you look at it on a map or something like ArcGIS or Google Earth you see that if it goes it takes a good chunk of Naples with it. And that volcano is rapidly coming back to life next to a major European city.

And for fund read up on the strato volcano under Laacher Zee, a lake in Germany formed in the caldera of the volcano's last big eruption. It is dormant, but plenty of gas bubbles up through the waters of the lake from cracks in the lakebed caldera. It is part of the East Eifel Volcanic Field (which extends into France) and only 11 km from the city of Koblenz and 14 km from Andernach.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

With so much sin under the belt…. Fuji-san had probably an alert recently when they stress so much the matter.

Against a volcano, you need mask and boats (with filter for the motor not in open air). That’s the most efficient.

How long it would take to evacuate toKyo and its surrounding ? There is a lack of anticipation and information here.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BARD TIPS: Prior to an Eruption:

Know your zone: Familiarize yourself with the Mount Fuji Volcanic Hazard Map to determine your evacuation zone and potential dangers. The official website provides detailed information and downloadable maps: https://www.fujisan-climb.jp/en/risk/guidelines.html

Create an evacuation plan: Discuss with your family and community on evacuation routes, designated shelters, and communication strategies. Practice the plan regularly.

Prepare an emergency kit: Pack a backpack with essential supplies for at least 3 days, including:

Food: Non-perishables like canned goods, energy bars, and dried fruit.

Water: Aim for at least 3 liters per person per day.

First-aid kit: Stock essential medications, bandages, and antiseptic wipes.

Warm clothing and rain gear: Prepare for changing weather conditions.

Sturdy shoes: Suitable for walking long distances on potentially rough terrain.

Cash and important documents: Keep photocopies of passports, IDs, and insurance papers.

Mask: N95 or similar respirator to protect against ash and debris.

Headlamp or flashlight: Rechargeable or with extra batteries.

Radio: Battery-powered AM/FM or shortwave radio for updates and emergency information.

Whistle and signal mirror: For attracting attention in case of separation.

Multi-tool or knife: Handy for various tasks and repairs.

Garbage bags and sanitation supplies: Essential for hygiene and temporary shelters.

Fuel for Cars: While having a full tank is recommended, 80% may be sufficient depending on the evacuation timeframe and traffic conditions. Prioritize safe and timely evacuation over waiting for a full tank.

Stay informed: Monitor official announcements and news reports for eruption warnings and evacuation orders.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Good advice M Shimizu. I wonder how many of us follow these tips…(?)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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