A condominium apartment building in Tokyo’s Shinagawa-ku will be the first residential building in Tokyo’s 23 wards to be designated as an emergency shelter.

“Park Homes Musashi Koyama” is a 3 minute walk from Musashi Koyama Station on the Meguro Line. The 19 story building has 238 units and approximately 532 residents. The building’s management association signed an agreement with Shinagawa-ku on January 17th which allows the building’s common areas on the 1st floor and basement to provide emergency shelter for up to 100 people. The storeroom can also hold supplies such as blankets and food for approximately 300 people.

According to Shinagawa-ku, on the day of the Tohoku earthquake approximately 1500 travelers had to seek shelter around the Musashi Koyama Station. The residents of Park Homes were moved by this sight and wanted to provide assistance in any future emergencies.

At current, the total number of city-wide emergency shelters are insufficient and easily overwhelmed in a situation such as the one on March 11th. It is hoped that the example set by the residents of Park Homes will encourage other apartment buildings to also offer up their space in times of emergency.

Some corporations have also offered up some of their facilities. Pfizer have made an arrangement with Ota-ku to provide their training facility as a shelter. There are also four companies in Koto-ku who are making arrangements to offer their high-rise commercial buildings as emergency evacuation sites in the event of a possible tsunami in Tokyo Bay. The buildings will be able to accommodate 600 persons in the event of a tsunami during ‘business hours’ [there is no mention of whether these buildings will be accessible out of office hours].

The government is also considering introducing regulations that require companies to have their own emergencies supplies of food and water in the event of a disaster, as Tokyo’s public shelters do not have the capacity to deal with a major influx of residents seeking temporary shelter.

Park Homes Musashi Koyama

Source: The Sankei Shimbun, January 14, 2012.