Doomsday prepping in Japan: Inside one woman’s living-room bunker

It might be the house of Zen, however Japan is likely one of the most pure disaster-prone locations on the planet.
Located on the boundaries of 4 tectonic plates and on the Western ridge of the ‘ring of fireside’, Japan is likely one of the most tectonically energetic locations on earth. Its place, topography and local weather makes the nation significantly susceptible to earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and volcanic eruptions.
Whereas earthquakes are frequent in Japan, with round 1,500 yearly, consultants have been predicting that Japan is due for a mega earthquake. Authorities say there’s a 70 per cent probability higher Tokyo shall be struck by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake by 2050 – a possible catastrophe they’ve termed X Day.
This concern, coupled with fears of an growing menace of a missile assault from North Korea, has contributed to Japan being a booming market within the $200 billion world catastrophe preparedness trade.

Dad and mom akin to Hiroko are taking excessive measures to guard their households. She put in a shelter into her front room which she hopes will shield her and her younger daughter within the case of an emergency.

Hiroko speaks to journalist Kumi Taguchi throughout Dateline’s documentary about prepping in Japan. Credit score: SBS Dateline.

“Within the occasion of an earthquake, that is fabricated from plane materials, so it’s very robust. Even when the home is crushed, this survives,” Hiroko instructed SBS Dateline.

“So, it protects us from earthquakes, ballistic missiles and different risks.”

A shelter like Hiroko’s will set you again about $15,000, with extra luxurious fashions priced at tons of of 1000’s of {dollars}.

“We’ve nowhere to cover on this place – we don’t have a basement. So I believed a shelter can be the reply,” she mentioned.

“The air inside is compressed, and there’s sufficient air for us for 2 days – that’s, if a ballistic missile hits and there’s radiation. After two days, we’ll must get out.”

A woman inside a shelter.

Journalist Kumi Taguchi inside Hiroko’s shelter.

The bunker is stocked with meals, water, blankets, and has an air conditioner and a tv put in.

The area is cozy for 2 folks and there’s no rest room – however Hiroko has considered a contingency plan for that, a purpose-designed disposable waste container which “opens like a paper cup.”

Extra consciousness round prepping

Anxiousness about pure disasters elevated following the 2011 earthquake that struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.
The Tōhoku earthquake – which registered 9 on the Richter scale – and tsunami eradicated total cities and villages. Greater than 19,000 folks had been killed or are nonetheless lacking, and greater than 6,000 survivors had been injured.

This pure catastrophe additionally brought on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

Two people walk among rubble and devastation caused by an earthquake and tsunami.

A tsunami survivor stands in a completely devastated city of Yamada in Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, in 2011, two days after a strong earthquake and tsunami hit the nation’s east coast. Credit score: AP/Kyodo Information

The catastrophe prompted many in Japan to assume additional about the right way to shield themselves from catastrophes.

Tadayuki Sato is the pinnacle of the Section Free Affiliation in Tokyo, which offers recommendation on getting ready for disasters.
He instructed Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun his organisation goals to teach folks on the right way to be prepared for a catastrophe earlier than it’s imminent.
“I would love folks to decide on merchandise from the attitude of whether or not they are going to assist in occasions of catastrophe and to share their consciousness with others round them,” he mentioned.

“Issues which can be wanted in normal occasions are wanted in occasions of catastrophe as properly.”

What’s the menace from North Korea?

In addition to the specter of pure catastrophe, many Japanese are apprehensive a couple of potential missile assault from North Korea.

North Korea has fired many strategic missile checks since its first one in 1984.

In 2022, North Korea fired greater than 90 missiles, essentially the most ever in a single yr.

The most recent take a look at occurred final week, simply hours earlier than the leaders of South Korea and Japan met at a summit in Tokyo. North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile into the waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula.

An unverified image of a missile launched by North Korea.

This picture supplied by the North Korean authorities exhibits what it says is an intercontinental ballistic missile in a launching drill on the Sunan worldwide airport in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, March 16 2023. The content material of this picture is as supplied and can’t be independently verified. Credit score: AP/Korean Central Information Company

Earlier this month, North Korea fired a minimum of two missiles towards the ocean of Japan. In October final yr, it fired its first missile over Japan since 2017.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol mentioned the summit was a big first step towards rebuilding ties between the 2 nations after greater than a decade of pause on bilateral relations as a result of historic divisions.
They confused the significance of improved ties, following shared issues, together with escalating North Korean nuclear and missile threats.
Based on CNN, earlier than departing for Tokyo, Yoon instructed worldwide media “there’s an growing want for Korea and Japan to cooperate on this time of a polycrisis.

“We can not afford to waste time whereas leaving strained Korea-Japan relations unattended.”

Tokyo’s X Day

Naoshi Hirata is an emeritus professor of seismology on the College of Tokyo. He was a part of the Tokyo metropolitan authorities’s panel of consultants on catastrophe prevention that produced the official estimate of the X Day earthquake.
He worries Tokyo’s residents are unprepared.
“Not all of the folks, all of the residents, assume very significantly about this,” Professor Hirata instructed the ABC.

With this in thoughts, the Tokyo metropolitan authorities has produced a 300 web page information, which incorporates manga pictures, to assist residents prepare.

We’ve nowhere to cover on this place – we don’t have a basement. So I believed a shelter can be the reply.


It has additionally integrated ‘refuge parks’ into its city planning which double as survival hubs in case of a catastrophe. The United Nations Workplace for the Coordination of Human Affairs warns the primary 72 hours after a catastrophe are essentially the most essential to save lots of lives.
The Guardian says these parks are fitted with solar-powered charging stations, public benches which flip into cooking stoves, and manholes which additionally act as emergency bathrooms. Underground are water reservoirs and storehouses containing meals for total districts.
For Hiroko, she says she typically will get requested why she purchased her front room bunker.
“I’m actually joyful that I did,” she mentioned.

“When one thing occurs, it will save us.”

Watch Dateline’s quick documentary ‘Nuclear Households’ that includes Hiroko’s shelter right here.