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HOME  > Past issues  > 2014 October 1 - 7  > JCP calls for improvement in monitoring of volcanoes
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2014 October 1 - 7 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP calls for improvement in monitoring of volcanoes

October 4, 2014
The latest volcanic eruption at Mt. Ontake in central Japan was the nation’s worst volcanic disaster in its postwar history. Experts have long raised questions about the insufficient monitoring system of volcanoes in Japan, one of the most active volcanic countries in the world.

In Japan, 110 active volcanoes are located across the nation. Of them, only 47 are under 24-hour monitoring. On top of that, experts have criticized that equipment and operations of monitoring sites are insufficient.

The government’s poor budget for volcano research has brought about this situation.

An expert panel of the government in May last year in its proposal on measures to prevent volcanic disasters stated that as the budget allocated for a study of forecasting volcanic eruptions is only 100 million yen a year, this has caused difficulties in achieving progress in the study.

The Education Ministry data show that the state budgets relating to volcanoes amount to a little more than one billion yen, which is far less than the 200 billion yen of so-called “sympathy budget” provided to the U.S. Forces in Japan and the 35 billion yen in subsidies to political parties.

A shortage of volcanic researchers is another serious problem. In Japan, the number of people studying volcanos is 40. The researcher-to-volcano ratio in Japan stands very low at 0.36, compared to 10.7 in Italy, 0.85 in Indonesia, and 0.83 in the United States.

The Japanese Communist Party has been calling for a drastic improvement in support for volcanic research in the Diet. JCP member of the Upper House Nihi Sohei in 2009 at a Diet meeting demanded that the government provide a larger amount of money to universities to strengthen their ability to monitor volcanoes.
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