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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 June 10 - 16  > Government should improve disaster evacuation as part of coronavirus countermeasures
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2020 June 10 - 16 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Government should improve disaster evacuation as part of coronavirus countermeasures

June 16, 2020

Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Japan has entered the rainy season and the typhoon season is also approaching. The preparedness for heavy rains or typhoons is now the point at issue.

Amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the general public fear that if they are hit by some kind of a natural disaster and have to take shelter in an evacuation center, they will be exposed to the coronavirus infection risk because evacuation facilities are normally closed and crowded spaces with close-contact with other evacuees. In order to protect people’s health and human rights, it is important to improve the facilities and living conditions in evacuation centers.

The national government has instructed local governments to improve infection prevention measures at evacuation centers and has issued various documents such as notices, announcements, and guidelines.

The central government should not just send those documents to municipalities but also fulfil its responsibility to help them carry out the instructions from the central government.

The national government should provide sufficient financial support to local governments so that they can employ measures to improve evacuation facilities. The state government explains that the special subsidy program for local governments, which was included in the supplementary budget for FY2020, can be used to strengthen the defense against the coronavirus at evacuation centers. The government should approve all applications for the subsidy payments without putting a cap on expenditures for the program in order for local governments to implement all necessary measures.

In the first place, living standards at evacuation centers in Japan are very poor. The Cabinet Office’s guidelines on the management of evacuation facilities quote aid staff from abroad as saying that at evacuation centers set up after the 2011 East Japan disaster, living conditions fell short of the international refugee support standards. The COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted the existing problems pertaining to evacuation facilities.

The need now is for the state government to strengthen its readiness for natural disasters in line with the spirit of the Constitution, including the protection of the right to pursue happiness, the right to live, and gender equality.

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