Postcard from... Tokyo


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The Independent Online

Japan’s government is urging people to stock up on toilet paper, because more than 40 per cent of the nation’s supply comes from a high-risk earthquake zone.

Marking yesterday’s national Disaster Prevention Day, the Trade and Industry Ministry is promoting speciality toilet paper for emergency use.

Officials say people think of food and water as relief goods, but easily forget toilet paper, and get desperate when it’s too late. Government and industry officials said 41 per cent of the country’s toilet-paper supply comes from Shizuoka, central Japan, one of Japan’s most earthquake-prone areas.

Toshiyuki Hashimoto, a ministry official in charge of paper products, warned of a month-long nationwide toilet-paper shortage in the event of the area being hit by a mega-quake, a lesson learnt from the deadly March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan. Lack of toilet paper could even cause further discomfort when people start using tissue paper, which is not water-soluble and could clog up toilets.

Hundreds of thousands of citizens take part in a drill every 1 September – the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake near Tokyo, which killed more than 140,000. Led by the Prime Minister, the exercise also involves the military and civilians. AP