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Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

April 16, 2016 (PM)

Extraordinary Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary (Excerpt)

[Provisional Translation]

Opening Statement by the Chief Cabinet Secretary

Today, with aftershocks from this morning’s earthquake continuing to occur intermittently, caution remains necessary.  In addition, there is a possibility of heavy rain, with torrential rain and lightning in some local areas from late tonight into the early morning hours of tomorrow.  For that reason, in some regions work is underway to prevent other secondary damage such as landslide through the issuing of evacuation preparation information and other measures.  Thus far 26 deaths have been confirmed since the earthquake that struck early this morning.  In combination with the nine people who were confirmed deceased as of yesterday, this brings the total number of deceased victims to 35.  We are also aware of 190 severely wounded and 807 people with minor injuries, centered in Kumamoto Prefecture.  Currently, in the village of Minamiaso where damage has been centered in particular, we are continuing rescue operations as there is the possibility of people being trapped under collapsed buildings.  There are approximately 100,000 residences without power, 105,000 residences without gas, and 420,000 residences without water services.  We will continue to work to restore these services quickly, and with regard to water in particular, we are undertaking measures such as arranging trucks to distribute water.  As for the state of the nuclear power stations, the Nuclear Regulation Authority reported to me that there continue to be no irregularities.

In order to concentrate all the government’s strength as we address this situation, a short while ago we convened the Sixth Headquarters for Emergency Disaster Measures, with the Prime Minister in attendance.  Prime Minister Abe again gave instructions regarding three points, namely, that all-out efforts continue to be made to save human life first and foremost, despite the extremely difficult nature of nighttime search and rescue operations as the rain and wind intensify; that the provision of daily necessities be made doubly sure and that well-considered assistance be thoroughly provided by keeping a sufficiently watchful eye also on individuals requiring special consideration, such as the elderly and babies and toddlers; and that related institutions work in an integrated manner to take all possible measures for assistance policies for disaster victims, including securing living environments, as evacuation is expected to be necessary over the long term. The government is sending the greatest possible number of police, fire fighters, Self-Defense Forces personnel, Japan Coast Guard personnel, medical units, and others, reinforcing the structure to a scale of 20,000 persons, and doing its very utmost for the search and rescue of disaster victims.  Against this backdrop, approximately 90,000 people are under evacuation in 681 evacuation centers within Kumamoto Prefecture.

In addition, today under the Headquarters for Emergency Disaster Measures, we established teams for procuring supplies, comprised of personnel from relevant ministries and agencies, to make it possible to ensure necessary supplies for the disaster areas.  We are moving forward in preparing to supply 900,000 meals, which are three days of food supplies based on the number of disaster victims.

I ask that the people in the disaster areas act in a level-headed manner, paying attention to the evacuation information provided by local authorities and others as well as information from television, radio, and other sources while helping each other.

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