Vending Machine Radios Get Word Out In Disasters

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A vending machine that has an emergency radio has been set up in Setagaya Park, Tokyo.

A community radio station in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, has installed a radio atop a vending machine in Setagaya Park to disseminate needed information in the event of a large-scale disaster.

Taking advantage of its strength as a local broadcaster, FM Setagaya will provide community-based information, such as which evacuation centers are available, or where relief supplies are distributed.

The radio is attached to the upper part of the vending machine and turns on when an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 5 or higher occurs. The radio can be heard up to 100 meters away and can run for two days on its built-in battery even during a power outage.

It was set up in Setagaya Park because the park is designated as a major evacuation site.

In the future, the radio is expected to be used to spread information about fires or crimes, such as eyewitness reports of a suspicious person.

Radio content distributor Music Bird Co. in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, is promoting the nationwide installation of radios attached to vending machines for disaster management and crime prevention. It says the initiative was started in 2017 by community radio station Suzuka Voice FM in Suzuka, Mie Prefecture, and has spread to community FM stations in various regions. To date, about 40 stations in 14 prefectures, including Osaka and Shizuoka, have signed agreements to install radios on vending machines. Several FM stations in Tokyo are preparing to follow suit.

“Radio is especially needed in times of disaster,” Atsushi Okada, president of FM Setagaya’s operator Setagaya General Services Co., said. “We’ll keep spreading community-based information using this vending machine radio as well.”