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In Order Not to End Up a Stranded Commuter

Darren has just started his job with a Japanese company. Hideya, a senior work colleague, has requested that Darren accompany him on a wholesale shopping expedition.

In Order Not to End Up a Stranded Commuter

Darren

Wholesale shopping, what are we going to buy?

Hideya

We are going to buy drinking water, foodstuffs, and blankets in preparation for when a major disaster occurs. As items stockpiled for the use of employees, what we buy will be stored on company premises.

Darren

Really? So what you are saying is that, for example, if a major earthquake were to occur, it would be possible to stay overnight on company premises?

Hideya

Exactly. During the Great East Japan Earthquake, because transportation infrastructure in the Tokyo metropolitan area experienced paralysis, a great many people who were either at work or away from their homes became "stranded commuters", and they attempted to get home once the quake had struck. Reflecting on this, the "Tokyo Metropolitan Government Ordinance in Response to Stranded Commuters" was drafted. Under this ordinance enacted in April this year, when a major disaster occurs, rather than recklessly trying to return home, it is recommended that people remain at their place of employment or wherever they happen to be, for a period of three days.

Darren

But, doesn't everybody want to get home as quickly as possible in such circumstances? Wouldn't they be worried about their families?

Hideya

But Darren, there are just so many people in Tokyo. If the trains and buses are not operating, and everybody tries to make their own way home all at once, the roads and footpaths would become clogged with people, and this in turn would become a great impediment to the relief efforts of the police, the fire brigade, and the self-defense forces, etc. Moreover, while on foot and trying to get home, there is also the possibility of suffering injury by being engulfed by phenomena such as fires and collapsed buildings, etc. It is a safer option to remain in a building that is secure.

Darren

I see what you mean.

Hideya also talks about the importance of thinking about methods by which to confirm family safety.

Hideya

As you mentioned, it would be difficult to maintain a sense of calm and composure if you were unable to contact family and friends in order to confirm their safety, even if you were safe yourself.

Darren

Yes, I can imagine becoming more and more agitated, and wanting to be able to get home to the family.

Hideya

This new ordinance is calling upon people to secure a number of means by which they can contact their family members. More than just simply using the telephone and mobile phone disaster message board services, it would be wiser to also consider the use of social network services such as Facebook and Twitter. Greater peace-of-mind would be offered by deciding in advance among family members about which service to use.

Darren

I agree, I will make a note to talk about this with my girlfriend. If I know she is safe, then because of the sufficient supplies stored on company premises, I get the sense it would be safer to stay put.

Hideya

Yes, in the ordinance, after safety has been assured, for the purpose of making your way home on foot, it is recommended that in advance people confirm the route they would take, it is also recommended that a comfortable pair of shoes that are suitable for walking be kept at an individual's place of employment.

Darren

So it is a case of getting on and doing those things that you can do for yourself.

Hideya

Exactly! OK Darren, let's go shopping!

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Disaster Prevention Homepages
http://www.bousai.metro.tokyo.jp/  (Japanese)
http://www.bousai.metro.tokyo.jp/english/index.html  (English)