Education ministry report cites serious lag in quakeproofing schools

September 5 , 2012

Collapsed ceilings pose a major safety risk in large quakesCollapsed ceilings pose a major safety risk in large quakes

September 5, 2012: According to a recent report released by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, a mere 32.0% of the some 34,000 public elementary and junior high schools nationwide have reinforced such nonstructural elements as school and gymnasium ceilings, lighting fixtures and glass windows that pose a significant safety risk in a major earthquake.

The minister found that some two-thirds of the schools have carried out inspections following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the extensive nonstructural element damage it caused. But less than half, or 48.5%, have managed to repair or reinforce ceilings and other nonstructural elements.

New Komeito has served as the principal architect and agent in a government program to strengthen the structural integrity of public schools, a program that will cover some 90% of elementary and junior high schools by 2013. The party has been concerned that the government has fallen behind on nonstructural element reinforcements, however, and called on the education ministry in May 2012 to complete the inspection of all schools by this fiscal year and publicize the findings.