Tokyo Bay Outsourced Tsunami Gates ``Remained Open`` During March 11 Tsunami

Monday, October 31, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) A Japanese Communist Party member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, Azegami Miwako, revealed that seawall gates in Tokyo Bay failed to shut before the earthquake-resultant tsunami reached the bay coast on March 11, 2011.

Although the low tsunami in this area did not cause any damage, Azegami told Akahata newspaper,“If the tsunami height had been higher than predicted, areas near the unclosed three gates would have suffered extensive damage.” She stressed that this had been warned of by a TMG workers’ union, member of the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren). She said that the union raised questions about TMG’s insufficient measures against earthquakes and tsunamis when the handling of the 46 gates was first outsourced.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government (TMG) has reportedlly 46 seawall gates In Tokyo Bay whose operations are outsourced to private companies. When following the tsunami warning directives of the Japan Metrological Agency to shut the gates, "TMG had failed to close three gates by the time the first tsunami arrived."

The bureau official promised the JCP representative to improve measures and in response to an Akahata inquiry later, the bureau official said, “We have provided satellite telephones to the companies commissioned to handle the gates, and increased the amount of money paid to them in their contracts so they can rent houses near the seawall gates in order to have their staff live there and reach the gates within minutes.”

Japan has long been admired for its high technology and attention to detail but in the last decade, the outsourcing of services has become a common practice and the pitfalls of unclear expectations and untrained risk management skills are beginning to show.

Chiba, Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture, suffered extensive damages, including flooded roads, because of delays in closing the seawall gates. And, like Tokyo, the management of the gates was also outsourced to private companies. A prefectural government official said, “We will take measures to assign prefectural government staff to close the gate in the event of an emergency.”

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