The Tokyo metropolitan government has published more findings from a panel of earthquake experts commissioned to predict the number of casualties likely to result from a Nankai Trough earthquake.
According to the estimates, about 1,800 deaths are predicted on casualties are expected on the Izu and Ogasawara island chains off Tokyo in the event of a quake and tsunami, the Disaster Prevention Council panel said in its findings, according to Sankei Shimbun.
However, the panel added that the number of casualties would be reduced if people in affected areas are able to quickly reach refuge spots.
However, due the distances involved, waves reaching Tokyo itself are expected to be a maximum of 2.5 meters tall. The panel predicted that although the earthquake may be felt in the capital, the shaking is expected to be the equivalent of 5 or below on the Japan Meteorological Agency seismic intensity scale.
In August of last year, the government tasked two panels of experts with drawing up a realistic assessment of what Japan could expect in the event of a Nankai Trough earthquake.
The panels concluded that an offshore Pacific earthquake like the one that hit Japan in 2011 could a trigger 34-meter tsunami, resulting in at least 323,000 deaths, 220 trillion yen in economic losses and the devastation of much of the coastline between Honshu and Kyushu.
The panel's estimate of fatalities following a Nankai Trough earthquake was 13 times higher than that offered by the central government in 2003. The discrepancy is thought to be partly due to the fact that 2011's Tohoku Earthquake was magnitude 9.0. The power of the earthquake reportedly surprised experts, who had wrongly assumed that no quake greater than magnitude 8.0 would occur in the region off Miyagi Prefecture in northern Japan.
A key concern is the 60 industrial and petrochemical complexes along the coast that could leak chemicals and other toxins into the environment. The report did not outline potential costs from any nuclear accidents that might arise due to such a disaster.
It said Japan's GDP would drop by over 9% in the year following such a disaster. The economy contracted 0.6% in 2011 but has failed to regain strong growth despite heavy government spending on rebuilding.
The disaster panel recommended that companies with operations in the regions likely to be worst hit by a Nankai earthquake and tsunami accelerate plans to shift factories further inland or to higher ground.
The panel's findings may build support for extra government spending on disaster preparedness and retrofitting buildings and other structures to make them more quake resistant. The Cabinet Office's report said the 169.5 trillion yen in damage to property and infrastructure could be more than halved if such measures are completed.© Japan Today/AP