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Thursday, Sept. 1, 2005

Tokyo, convenience stores, Yoshinoya ink disaster pact

Staff writer

Major convenience stores and Yoshinoya restaurants in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures agreed Wednesday to help people in emergencies by providing drinking water and other amenities when earthquakes and other disasters strike.

News photo
Participants take a break at a rest stop in Toshima Ward, Tokyo, as they walk to their homes during a disaster drill Sunday to prepare for a potential disruption in the public transportation system.

The pact links eight convenience store chains and Yoshinoya D&C Co. with the governments of Tokyo and Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures, and their major cities.

The agreement obliges the companies' 12,670 stores to offer drinking water, lavatory facilities and information from emergency radio or TV broadcasts to people unable to get home when disaster strikes, according to officials at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government's Disaster Prevention Bureau.

According to a government disaster prevention estimate released in February, some 6.5 million people in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures will be stranded if a giant temblor originating directly beneath the capital damages its massive transportation network.

Tetsuhiro Kaneko, a spokesman for Seven-Eleven Japan Co., said the stores will support people as much as possible, though they may not be able to do so if the shops themselves are damaged.

"We acknowledge that convenience stores should play the important role that communities and police expect" during disasters, he said.

Lawson Inc. said all of its stores are equipped with satellite radio systems normally used to broadcast music and announcements of new products, and the company may use them to provide emergency information if needed.

In February, a similar agreement was signed among convenience store chains and Yoshinoya with seven other prefectural governments, including Osaka and Kyoto, and three cities.

Gas stations in Tokyo and neighboring prefectures also have a cooperation agreement to provide water, lavatories and emergency information for people on foot.

The convenience stores taking part in the scheme in the Tokyo area will have signs identifying that they offer such support in the event of disasters, according to the metropolitan government.

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