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Japan reveals quake response command center for Tokyo 2020; holds major drill

The New National Stadium is seen under construction in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward in this April 16, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi)
Japan's Defense Ministry is seen in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward in this file photo. (Mainichi/Kazuo Motohashi)

TOKYO -- Japan's Defense Ministry on May 22 revealed the inner workings of a command center to coordinate the response to a major earthquake right beneath the capital in the middle of the Tokyo 2020 Games.

The ministry pulled back the curtain on the cross-agency command center on the second day of a four-day drill involving some 12,000 people, including Self-Defense Force personnel, games organizing committee and Cabinet Secretariat staff, and members of the U.S. military based in Japan.

The drill is based on a damage prediction by the Cabinet Office's Central Disaster Management Council for a magnitude 7.3 quake hitting Tokyo, and uses computer-generated maps to simulate the response. The command center is gaming out a number of post-temblor scenarios, including city-wide gridlock isolating the Tokyo Bay-side area where many of the games' venues are concentrated, and a spike in heat stroke victims. Officials will then examine the effectiveness of countermeasures.

"We must strengthen not only our ground rescue unit but also our air- and waterborne rescue units to make sure we can save people promptly," commented Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya.

(Japanese original by Naritake Machida, City News Department)

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