Japanese C-Stores to Serve as Quake Centers

Could provide basic needs; some retailers skeptical

Published in CSP Daily News

TOKYO -- In what could serve as a model for the United States, which has disaster planning top of mind now because of the recent hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, local authorities in Japan are signing agreements with convenience stores to turn them into help centers in the event of a major earthquake, reported BBC News.

The companies will be able to supply things the authorities may struggle to provide immediately, such as drinking water and toilet facilities.

Japan is in an area prone to regular and in some cases serious earthquakes. [image-nocss] After a major quake, one of the biggest difficulties for local authorities is providing basic services. These agreements should make that easier.

Seven-Eleven Japan has appointed special teams who will rush to stores damaged or flooded after earthquakes to try to keep them in operation. Earthquake drills are held regularly and most Japanese people are aware they will probably need to look after themselves.

After a strong earthquake struck northern Japan last month, a book which shows safe routes home, away from high buildings in major cities and includes the location of convenience stores and public toilets, became a bestseller.

But some owners of small stores who have been through major quakes, like the one that struck Kobe 10 years ago, are skeptical about their ability to help, said the report. After that quake, most lost power and fresh water supplies immediately, and staff found it hard to travel to work. Most stores, they said, are too small to stockpile adequate supplies of food and water.