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Japan 'to mull backup capital city for emergencies'
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 8, 2011

Japan will consider creating a backup capital in case a major terrorist attack or natural disaster like the March 11 earthquake strikes Tokyo, a news report said Monday.

A new panel will discuss the idea as early as the autumn and it will be organised by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Jiji Press reported, citing unnamed sources.

The move comes amid concern that a major disaster in the heart of Tokyo -- where prominent political and economic functions are concentrated -- could cause grave damage to the entire country, the report said.

The panel is expected to consider moving part of Tokyo's capital functions to a distant location unlikely to be affected by the same disaster.

In addition, it will also look at how such a backup capital will function, including whether it should have a full time staff at any time.

Osaka governor Toru Hashimoto has proposed making his western Japan prefecture the country's subcapital.

Japan, located at the junction of four tectonic plates, experiences 20 percent of the strongest quakes recorded on Earth each year. Geologists have warned that Tokyo is particularly vulnerable to powerful quakes.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that rocked northeastern Japan in March generated a massive tsunami that wiped out towns along vast stretches of the Pacific coast, leaving more than 20,000 people dead or missing and triggering an atomic crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Thousands were made homeless when nuclear reactors began melting down after its cooling systems were swamped by the waves in the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl a quarter-century ago.

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