Japan lacks coordinated effort to defuse volcanic time bomb

Source(s)
Nikkei Asian Review, Nikkei Inc

By Masaki Horikoshi

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Experts are warning that the country is ill-prepared for a major eruption. Many active volcanoes in Japan are located close to residential areas, posing huge risks to people's lives and livelihoods.

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But the long-running problem of poor policy coordination among government organizations charged with preparing for the next big eruption remains unresolved. And as many older experts retire, there is growing concern about a shortage of people capable of meeting this public safety challenge. The government's slow response to the COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a cautionary tale, highlighting the dangers neglecting long-term public safety challenges.

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Japan has more than 100 active volcanoes. An even deadlier eruption than the one on Mount Unzen occurred in 2014 on Mount Ontake in central Japan. That event left 63 people, mainly climbers, dead or missing and was the worst volcanic disaster in Japan since the end of World War II.

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Because Japan's volcanoes have been quiescent in recent years, research funding has stagnated. Few universities have the financial wherewithal to employ volcanologists. The question is whether they will be on hand the next time one of the country's volcanos rumbles to life.

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