Annual disaster drills were held across Japan on Sunday, with the central government's exercise based on a scenario that a massive earthquake originating in Tokyo had rocked the capital and surrounding regions.
Local governments also conducted their own drills assuming major quakes and tsunami in a bid to improve preparedness for natural disasters in the disaster-prone country.
Princess Kako attended a memorial ceremony for the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake victims in Tokyo, the 96th anniversary of the disaster that claimed the lives of an estimated 105,000 people.
The nationwide exercises, which are held every Sept 1, or Disaster Prevention Day, come just after torrential rain ravaged the southwestern main island of Kyushu last week, leaving at least three people dead and one missing. The day marks the anniversary of a magnitude 7.9 temblor that devastated Tokyo and its vicinity in 1923.
The Japanese government estimates that there is a 70 percent chance of a magnitude-7 quake occurring directly beneath Tokyo within the next 30 years. It believes the quake could kill up to 23,000 people and destroy 610,000 buildings in the worst case.
Sunday's drill held in Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures was based on a magnitude-7.3 earthquake, with its epicenter within Tokyo's 23 wards, hitting the capital at 7 a.m. The quake was assumed to register 7, the highest on the Japanese seismic intensity scale, in Tokyo, upper 6 in the surrounding prefectures, and between lower 6 and upper 5 in other areas nearby.
"The government is putting all efforts into helping victims and preventing extensive damage," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting on emergency preparedness.
In Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, joint drills were held by Tokyo and eight prefectures including Saitama and Kanagawa, confirming steps in response to disasters such as collapsing buildings. The prime minister came to observe the drill, which saw around 5,000 people participate.
A disaster preparedness workshop was held in Tomakomai, Hokkaido, located near Atsuma, Mukawa and Abira, three towns devastated by an earthquake which rocked Japan's northernmost main island prefecture in September last year.
Meanwhile, in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, which was hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a drill to respond to an assumed tsunami was conducted.© KYODO