Japan Data

New Five-Level Warning System Introduced for Heavy Rain Disasters


Japan has introduced a new warning system for heavy rain with the aim of clarifying risk and necessary action to be taken.

In late May 2019, Japan introduced a new five-stage warning system based on information from the Meteorological Agency and other sources on heavy rain and landslide risk as well as evacuation information issued by municipalities. The aim is to save lives by clearly distinguishing between levels of danger so that individuals can prepare for evacuation and promptly seek refuge in the event of a natural disaster.

Warning level Evacuation information Meteorological information Advised action
1 Early advisory Be in a state of readiness.
2 Heavy rain/flooding advisory Verify evacuation routes.
3 Evacuation preparation Heavy rain/flooding warning Evacuate elderly and other persons requiring assistance.
4 Evacuation orders/advisories Landslide warning Full evacuation.
5 Disaster-level Heavy rain emergency warning Take optimal measures to save lives.

Created by Nippon.com based on materials issued by the Cabinet Office.

The torrential rains that struck western Japan in July 2018, resulted in 237 deaths and 8 missing persons, including many elderly, from among those who were late in seeking refuge from flooding rivers and landslides despite the evacuation order issued by the Meteorological Agency and local governments. In recent years, there has been frequent damage from heavy rains of ever-intensifying scale, as well as complaints that meteorological and evacuation information was difficult to understand. This led the government’s Central Disaster Management Council to examine ways to make it easier for the public to understand the levels of danger.

More specifically, under the new system, a level 3 warning issued by the Meteorological Agency for heavy rain and flooding indicates that elderly or disabled persons should be evacuated, while a level 4 landslide warning signifies the need for a full evacuation. In their disaster prevention efforts via emergency radio systems, apps, and other means, municipalities will also make use of the new warning system to clearly convey information to residents.

In order to make adequate preparations and take prompt action in the event of a disaster, residents of Japan should always bear in mind that a level 4 warning means full evacuation and that level 5 indicates the need to take whatever action is necessary to safeguard one’s own life.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: A rescue by boat of a resident in a community of western Japan struck by torrential rain in July 2018. © Jiji.)

disaster rain evacuation