Japan aims for more quake-resistant railways by FY 2017

Japan plans to ensure by fiscal 2017 that railways in areas threatened by strong earthquakes, including a potential massive one along the Nankai Trough off central and western Japan, can better withstand such disasters, a draft disaster preparedness plan obtained by Kyodo News showed Monday.

The policy to make railways more quake-resistant is part of a plan which sets numerical targets to measures to strengthen the country's preparedness against natural disasters, the draft said.

Every year, the government will check progress made in implementing the plan and report the results to the public.

Japan intends to reflect these measures in the fiscal 2015 budget and taxation revisions.

Under the draft, the government aims to raise the number of quake-resistant homes to 95 percent by 2020 from 79 percent in 2008, sources said.

As for strengthening railways against earthquake damage, the draft said by fiscal 2017 the government will make bridges and tunnels strong enough to withstand earthquakes measuring 6 or higher on the Japanese seismic scale of 7.

As of fiscal 2012, 91 percent of bridges and tunnels along railway lines on which more than 10,000 passengers commute daily were hardened against quakes of such intensity.

The government will help railway firms shoulder the expenses to build stronger, quake-resistant structures, and tell companies which areas should be improved.