Japan Data

Nearly 100% of Japan’s Public Elementary and Junior High School Buildings Meet Earthquake Resistance Standards

Society Disaster

In 2002, 44.5% of Japanese public school buildings were earthquake-resistant. By 2018, following the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, that rate had increased to 99%. However, the government target of 100% has yet to be reached.

A follow-up survey on the status of seismic retrofitting of public-school facilities nationwide in fiscal 2021 (as of April 1), conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology (MEXT), found that 99.6% of the 114,410 elementary and junior high school buildings, gymnasiums, and other facilities across Japan have been retrofitted against earthquakes with a seismic intensity of 6 or higher, a year-on-year increase of 0.2 percentage points.

A total of 88 municipalities have yet to complete quake-proofing, which is 33 fewer than in the previous year. The number of elementary and junior high school buildings that are not yet earthquake-resistant decreased by 230 to 444, of which 91 are at high risk of collapsing in the case of a tremor with an intensity of 6 or higher.

The seismic retrofitting of schools is based on the New Seismic Standard, enacted in June 1981, following the 1978 Miyagi Earthquake—a tremor with an intensity of 5 on the Japanese scale that heavily damaged buildings in the city of Sendai. The new standard required that houses be strong enough to not collapse under an earthquake with a seismic intensity of 6 or 7.

The subsequent Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (1995) and Great East Japan Earthquake (2011) reconfirmed the need for earthquake-resistant public schools that could serve as evacuation centers in the event of a disaster, leading to construction work among municipalities nationwide.

The breakdown nationwide shows that 19 prefectures, including Miyagi, Akita, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, Kyoto, and Kumamoto, have a 100% quake-resistance rate for school buildings, while the lowest rate, at 96.8%, was in Okinawa Prefecture.

Quake-resistance rates for facilities at other types of public schools all increased over the previous year, including a 0.8-point increase to 97.1% at kindergartens, a 0.2-point increase to 99.1% at high schools, and a 0.1-point increase to 99.7% at special needs schools.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)

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