New Volcano Research Headquarters to Come Up with Policy by Summer; First Committee of Its Kind in Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A signboard in the middle reads “Headquarters for promoting volcanic observation and research,” at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in Tokyo.

The government’s newly established headquarters for promoting volcanic observation and research confirmed Monday during its first meeting to compile a survey and observation plan for all active volcanoes in Japan by this summer.

The headquarters was formed on April 1 following the enactment of the revised active volcano law last year, comprising the volcano research committee chaired by Kyushu University Emeritus Prof. Hiroshi Shimizu and the policy committee chaired by University of Tokyo Emeritus Prof. Toshitsugu Fujii. The former panel will evaluate the urgency of volcanic eruptions, while the latter plans to establish and manage observation networks and research budgets.

Monday’s meeting held at the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry determined that the policy committee will compile a research plan by summer and develop a database of observational results. The research committee will analyze eruption histories of volcanoes nationwide based on existing literature and other sources and study eruption probabilities.

The volcano headquarters will lead the role in the field of volcanoes like that of the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which was established after the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.

Japan has 111 active volcanoes ― accounting for about 7% of volcanoes worldwide ― but previously did not have any organ to oversee research, observation programs and studies.