Rain sends people back to shelters in quake-hit Osaka area – Osaka
The number of people taking refuge at shelters in earthquake-hit western Japan’s Osaka Prefecture grew by 1,000 on Wednesday as rain that started in the early hours sparked fears about landslides, leading some residents to return to the facilities. As of 8 a.m., 1,700 people were staying in public shelters in the prefecture, marking a sharp increase from 580 as of Tuesday night, according to the Osaka prefectural government.
The weather agency issued a heavy rain warning for the city of Ibaraki and other parts of the prefecture, forecasting up to 150 millimeters of rainfall in the 24 hours until 6 p.m. Wednesday. Some areas may see torrential rain with thunder, it said. Local authorities have covered house roofs damaged in Monday’s earthquake with plastic sheets to prepare for the rain and advised some 1,800 people to evacuate fearing possible landslides. Most public elementary and middle schools reopened in hard-hit Takatsuki city but the city of Minoo decided to continue suspending classes at their schools as a precaution against landslides.
The magnitude 6.1 quake that rocked the area on Monday morning, with five fatalities reported, was the biggest in the Kansai area since a magnitude 7.3 quake devastated Kobe in adjoining Hyogo Prefecture and its vicinity in 1995, killing more than 6,000 people. The victims of Monday’s quake included Rina Miyake, a 9-year-old girl in Takatsuki who was hit by a concrete wall that collapsed on her as she was walking to school. Police have launched an investigation into the fatality, suspecting it could be a case of negligence resulting in death due to shoddy construction, according to investigative sources. The school remains closed while other public schools in the city resumed operation.
Japan’s home-share listings grow ten-fold on month to 1,000 ahead of new law – Nationwide
Japan’s home-sharing listings have crossed the 1,000-mark, the nation’s tourist agency said on Wednesday, ahead of a new law regulating the practice comes into effect on Friday. The count is 10 times higher from a month ago, but still lags 62,000 listings the market leader Airbnb Inc. had earlier this year.
Japan will enact the private temporary lodging, or “minpaku” law, on June 15. The law requires hosts to register with the government apart from imposing other rules and restrictions.
Japan has received 2,707 applications nationwide as of June 8, of which 1,134 were approved, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. As of May 11, the government had approved 152 of 724 applications. The new law limits home-sharing to 180 days a year, a cap hosts say makes it difficult to turn a profit and leaves final decision-making to local governments, some of which have imposed even stricter rules to protect security.
Students return to school in quake-hit Osaka as anxieties continue – Osaka
The school attended by a 9-year-old girl who died after a powerful earthquake in Osaka this week reopened Thursday, as grief and anxieties persist among students and local residents. Some students shed tears during the meeting at Juei Elementary School where Rina Miyake used to study, according to city officials. The school needed more time for safety checks before classes resumed, unlike most elementary schools in the city, which had reopened on Wednesday. Students had to return home by lunchtime as the school cannot provide meals because there is still no gas supply in the area.
The fourth-grader at the school was crushed to death under a concrete wall that collapsed as she was on her way to school after the magnitude 6.1 quake rocked the northern part of the prefecture. Local police are looking at her death as a possible case of professional negligence as concrete blocks around the school’s swimming pool were piled higher than legal standards with insufficient reinforcement.
On Thursday, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry dispatched a special team and inspected concrete-block walls at elementary and middle schools in Takatsuki for possible cracks, tilting and other damage. The ministry also urged owners of such walls nationwide to check their safety, while the Osaka prefectural government decided to inspect all concrete walls made of blocks on routes taken by students going to local public schools. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in the prefecture in the morning and visited the site where the wall collapsed as well as other locations hit hard by the quake. Abe also said the government will provide financial aid to local authorities in advance so they can make recovery efforts without worrying about finances.
Local authorities said they have received reports of 417 buildings at public kindergartens, and elementary, junior high and high schools being damaged. The reports included cracks in exterior walls and a lamp that fell from the ceiling of a gymnasium, they said. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said 2,352 homes have been damaged in the quake in Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo and Nara prefectures. Of 1,444 public elementary and junior high schools in Osaka Prefecture, 160 schools were closed on Wednesday.