Survey: 50% of Japanese Municipalities Have Estimate on Amount of Disaster Waste

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A large amount of debris litters a roadside in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on July 13, 2018.

Only half of the 109 major cities and wards nationwide have an estimate of the amount of disaster waste — such as debris from homes and damaged household goods — that could be generated after flooding, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Torrential rains and other climatic disasters have become more frequent and severe due to climate change, and municipalities need to devise countermeasures.

In guidelines revised in 2018, the central government requires each municipality to create a disaster waste management plan and estimate the amount of debris that could be generated during various disasters such as floods, earthquakes and tsunami.

The Yomiuri Shimbun sent questionnaires to 109 municipalities — prefectural capitals, ordinance-designated cities, Tokyo’s 23 wards and core cities — between June and July, asking about the types of disasters for which they have an estimate on waste. All municipalities responded.

According to the survey, 108 municipalities have formulated a management plan, with 107 estimating earthquake-triggered waste. However, only 53, such as Saitama and Kitakyushu, have an estimate regarding flood waste. Expeditious disposal is necessary for flood waste because it decomposes quickly and causes bad odors.

Forty cities, including Shizuoka and Fukuoka, had an estimate for tsunami waste, while 11 had a projection on landslide waste.

Regarding the reasons for not estimating the waste of some disasters — with multiple answers allowed — about 60% said they have already estimated the maximum size of a disaster, with the majority focusing on earthquakes. About 20% said they either did not know how to make such an estimate or did not have sufficient manpower.