Japan more than doubles, to $2.3 trillion, estimate of possible damage of major offshore quake

TOKYO – A government panel has sharply increased its financial estimate of how much damage a major quake centred off the coast of central Japan would cause, raising the urgency of disaster preparedness for much of the country’s eastern coast.

The Cabinet Office said in a report carried by all major newspapers that the estimate of 220 trillion yen ($2.3 trillion) in damage was based on expectations for a magnitude 9 earthquake striking in the Nankai Trough, which runs from just southwest of Tokyo to the east of the southern island of Kyushu.

A magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the northeastern coast in March 2011, unleashing a massive tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people.

The Cabinet intends to use the higher damage estimate in drawing up disaster preparedness plans.