Japan is pretty disaster-ready.
- In our hotel room in Tokyo, tiny as it is, there is a flash light. Now that disaster has hit, I carry my own torch in my shoulder sidebag instead of in the knapsack to facilitate easy retrieval. A lot of places are out of electricity when disaster hits.
- The EXIT sign in my family guesthouse is large and bright. The green leon signboard is 2 feet by 1 foot. Even in the dark, there is no way to miss it. There is one upstairs and downstairs in my host’s house. My host showed me the way to the outside thru these exits.
- There are places around town designated as emergency or disaster shelters. I spotted a number of these in Tokyo including the Ueno Park.
- When the LAN lines and cellphone network are jam-packed, there are special numbers one can call to deposit and to retrieve messages. In this way, family members and people can continue to communicate with each other to convey their own situation. Now with Internet, there should b e more of these facilities.
- Everyone who carries a cellphone (at least here in Nikko) will be sent messages of upcoming disaster warnings. In this way, one can tell if a strong quake is hitting or not.
- Police are out at work to keep order and guide people to shelters. At the Nikko train station, some volunteers who speak English were present yesterday to communicate with those who do not understand Japanese.
- Relief forces are out at work immediately. According to my host, railway companies work overnight to inspect train lines right after quakes to ensure services can resume as soon as possible. This is on top of the government emergency service units out at work.
- People are accounted for as soon as possible and statistics are tallied.
- The Prime Minister calls meetings and issues instructions (can’t understand Japanese but guessing from the TV screen) at the earliest possible time.
- Their houses are built to withstand quakes (from TV shows I watched before). My host also told me the highrises in Tokyo can withstand strong quakes.
Are there more? Could be. But so far, these are my observations and experience.
Someone asked me if there is something Chinese can learn from Japan. This emergency and crisis management is one.
I hope “our fellow countrymen” who visit Japan won’t steal the torches from the hotel rooms …… or in their own hometown when the latter’s hotels are so equipped!
(The shake goes on….happening as I press SEND!!!)
(More from Tokyo…hopefully…..or from the wi-fi coffee shops near the train station!)