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1. Title

Promoting Earthquake Resistant School Buildings in Japan- Policies, National Subsidies and Prioritization of Vulnerable School Buildings -

ID: DRH 38 Funds for School Building Seismic Retrofitting.
Hazard: Earthquake

Process Technology (PT)

Proposer: MEXT Shisetsu Bousai
Country: JAPAN;
Date posted: 19 May 2008
Date published: 02 January 2009
Copyright © 2009 MEXT Shisetsu Bousai (proposer). All rights reserved.

Funds for School Building Seismic Retrofitting.


FUJII, Takashi
Office for Disaster Prevention, Department of Facility Planning and Administration,
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT)
3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Zip 100-8959
Tel: +81-3-6734-3036
Fax: +81-3-6734-3689
Email: bousai@mext.go.jp

2. Major significance / Summary

Making schools safe against earthquakes is a crucial issue in Japan because earthquake can occur anywhere in the country. Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT), promotes making school buildings earthquake-resistant with the use of the national subsidy system and the “Guidelines for the Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings” with which local municipalities can systematically prioritize and plan seismic retrofitting of school buildings.

3. Keywords

earthquake resistant school buildings, seismic retrofitting

II. Categories

4. Focus of this information

Process Technology (PT)

5. Users

5-1. Anticipated users: Administrative officers , Municipalities , National governments and other intermediate government bodies (state, prefecture, district, etc.)

5-2. Other users: Policy makers

6. Hazards focused


7. Elements at risk

Human lives , Buildings

III. Contact Information

8. Proposer(s) information (Writer of this template)

FUJII, Takashi
Office for Disaster Prevention, Department of Facility Planning and Administration,
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT)
3-2-2 Kasumigaseki, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Zip 100-8959
Tel: +81-3-6734-3036
Fax: +81-3-6734-3689
Email: bousai@mext.go.jp

9. Country(ies)/region(s) where the technology/knowledge/practice originated


10. Names and institutions of technology/knowledge developers

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT)

11. Title of relevant projects if any

12. References and publications

13. Note on ownership if any

IV. Background

14. Disaster events and/or societal circumstances, which became the driving force either for developing the technology/knowledge or enhancing its practice

  In Japan, earthquakes can occur anywhere in the country.  In 1981, the reinforced Earthquake-Proof codes of the Japanese Building Standard Law, known as the “New Earthquake-Proof Standards”, were enacted. Since then, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT), has been promoting to make school buildings built before 1981 earthquake resistant.

  But when the Great Hanshin-Awaji disaster occurred in 1995, many school buildings built before the enforcement of the New Earthquake-Proof Standards received severe damages because they had not been reinforced for earthquake resistance.



                      Devastating damage                      A collapsed column


  Following the Great Hanshin-Awaji disaster, a new law to promote seismic rehabilitation was enacted by the Ministry of Construction and under this law, owners of publicly used buildings (including school buildings) have to make efforts to make buildings earthquake resistant.

   Also, the Special Measures Law on Earthquake Disaster Prevention was passed for the purpose of preventing earthquake disasters through promoting   research concerning earthquakes and establishing special financial support for earthquake countermeasures taken by local governments. With this law, the national subsidy rates for seismic reinforcement projects in public school buildings were raised from 1/3 to 1/2. 

 But despite these events, a survey carried out by MEXT in fiscal year 2002 showed that seismic diagnosis was carried out on only 30 percent of buildings built under the pre-1981 Earthquake-Proof Standards, and only about 45 percent of all public primary and junior high school buildings had earthquake resistance.  Public school buildings had not been improved satisfactorily and there was a need to promote earthquake more strongly.

V. Description

15. Feature and attribute

Promoting Earthquake Resistance


The slow progress in the improvement of earthquake resistance in school buildings is due to two primary factors;

 (1) Many municipalities possess many numbers of school buildings and making all the buildings earthquake resistant at once is difficult, due to financial straits and lack of manpower.

 (2) There were no methods for forming earthquake resistance promotion plans  including ways to assess the priority of improvement projects



  Taking this situation into consideration, MEXT called together a council of experts in October 2003 to consider a way to promote earthquake resistance in the numerous school buildings under the jurisdiction of the local governments.  The outcomes of the councils’ discussions were submitted to MEXT in April 2003 in a report entitled “Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings”. In order to promote earthquake resistance, following 7 propositions were made in the report:(1) Develop a guideline for promotion of earthquake resistance based on the report(2) Raise awareness of the responsibility as establishers of schools to take action to make schools earthquake resistant.(3)Implement budgetary measures on both national and local level(4)Provide substantial information concerning the promotion of earthquake     resistance in school facilities(5)Promote the development of reinforcement methods fit for use in school buildings(6)Further promote academic research on earthquake mechanism(7)Promptly take emergency restoration measures after earthquakes.

Guidelines for the Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings

  Following the proposition in the report, the “Guidelines for the Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings” was drawn up by MEXT in July 2003.

  In the “Guidelines for the Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings”, the basic approach to promoting earthquake-resistant school buildings is described.

The basic policy for promoting earthquake resistant school buildings are:

(1) Prioritize earthquake resistance measures for school facilities with high risk of collapsing or severe damages(2) Implement seismic resistance capacity evaluation, promptly(3) Form a plan for promoting earthquake resistance, promptly(4) Disclose results of seismic resistance capacity evaluation and plans for promoting earthquake resistance

(5) Check and take measures for the earthquake resistance of non-structural elements.


Also, a systematic method for prioritizing vulnerable buildings is presented. This methods takes into account the school buildings’  construction year as the basic classification factor and by using 5 correction items (concrete strength, aging, plan, position of earthquake resisting walls, expected seismic intensity), the priority level of a school building is ranked according to vulnerability; level 1(high priority) through level 5(low priority). Using this method, local governments and school establishers possessing numerous school buildings can determine which building needs priority in seismic diagnosis.



           Assessment flowchart of priority by correction items 

  The guideline also displays how to evaluate the results of the school building’s seismic diagnosis to determine the urgency of earthquake resistance projects, along with points to bear in mind when devising a plan for promoting seismic resistance in school buildings.


  MEXT distributed the guidelines in May 2003 and urged municipal governments, which are responsible for school buildings, to promote school building retrofitting using the guidelines. 

Budgetary Measures 

  In addition, MEXT prepared a budget of approximately 100 billion Japanese yen  every year for the improvement of school buildings, emphasizing seismic retrofitting for municipal government buildings (115 billion Japanese yen in the 2008 fiscal year).  


  The following pie chart shows the result of the April 2008 MEXT survey on earthquake resistance situation of public primary and junior high school buildings in Japan.

   As a result of the above mentioned measures, by 2008, seismic diagnosis was carried out on approximately 96 per cent of buildings built before 1981. Results also showed that of all public primary and junior high school buildings, about 62 per cent of existing school building now have earthquake resistance.


16. Necessary process to implement


Budgetary Measures 

Because retrofitting school facilities is costly, budgetary measures is essential for progress.  Not only securing enough budgets for subsidies, but other measures such as reforming the subsidy system for a more flexible use by the local municipality, have also been taken. But still, the progress of making schools earthquake resistant is not fast enough and MEXT is making further efforts.  In December 2007, it was estimated that approximately 10,000 buildings were at high risk of collapsing in the event of a large scale earthquake and the Japanese government made a strong commitment to making these buildings earthquake resistant within the next 5 years (starting from year 2008) and called on local governments to carry out seismic retrofitting of these facilities.  Since April 2008, MEXT has been carrying out a nationwide promotion tour.

 In order to encourage local governments to accelerate seismic retrofitting, the national government revised the Special Measures Law on Earthquake Disaster Prevention, in June 2008.  Under the revised law, the government expanded its fiscal measures by raising the portion of costs covered by its subsidies to local governments, for the purpose of making public elementary and lower secondary school buildings earthquake resistant.  (This expansion of subsidies is applicable to the reinforcement and reconstruction of school buildings that are at high risk of collapsing in the event of a large scale earthquake.)  With this revision, the actual expense that local governments share is lessened considerably.   


Furthermore, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, together with the Minister of State  for Disaster Management, and the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism are urging local governments to accelerate efforts to make school buildings earthquake resistant.

   In August 2008, the Japanese Prime Minister decided the “Comprehensive Measure for Pursuing Life Security” in which states the accelerating of making school buildings earthquake resistant. In accordance with this policy, MEXT requested each municipality to accelerate its retrofitting of 10,000 vulnerable public school buildings to within four years, one year sooner than the initial five year time frame.

MEXT secured its source of funding for such operations from the supplementary budget for fiscal 2008. Adding with the primary budget, the national budget for improving public school buildings for the FY 2008 totals to approximately 330 billion yen.



Shifting from Rebuilding to Retrofitting



  Up until recently, old school buildings (built 30 or more years ago) were rebuilt rather than be retrofitted and refurbished.  However, considering the urgent task of securing seismic safety in the enormous number of school buildings with the limited budget, a change in the basic concepts for school building development was needed.  A report commissioned by MEXT in March 2005 proposed shifting to retrofitting and refurbishing of school buildings, which is less costly and takes less time in construction compared to rebuilding, as a way to secure safety and fulfill the needs of the educational curriculum.   MEXT has taken in the proposal and now promotes retrofitting and refurbishing school buildings unless there is a specific reason that prevents a building from being retrofitted, such as inefficient strength of concrete in a RC building.



Arousing Awareness



In Japan, municipal governments are responsible for public school buildings. Though the national government funds partial of the cost for retrofitting school buildings through grants, the rest of the costs must be budgeted by local municipalities.  Therefore it is necessary to arouse awareness of the importance of seismic resistance in school buildings in order to promote them. 

    Disclosure of the rate of schools that have been evaluated for seismic resistance capacity and the rate of schools with seismic resistance helps arouse awareness in the community.  Since 2006, MEXT began disclosing the results and ranks of the yearly survey of each municipality. This allowed the municipalities to see how high or low their results were compared to other municipalities. Some local governors were motivated to make more effort in seeing their status compared to neighboring municipalities.

MEXT has urged local governments to disclose the seismic resistance capacity evaluation results and plans for retrofitting of each school so that the local community will know and understand their schools status. In some municipalities, voices from the local community that aroused with the disclosure of such information have triggered local governors to make more effort in making their schools safe.  Taking a step further, with the revision of the Special Measures Law on Earthquake Disaster Prevention, the Japanese government has made it compulsory for the local governments to evaluate the seismic capacity of school buildings and disclose the results. 



Sufficient and Adequate Information



MEXT cooperating with architectural experts, conducted research and study of earthquake resistance for school facilities to establish seismic resistance capacity evaluation methods for school facilities, present methods for seismic retrofitting, and also compile examples of seismic retrofitted school facilities that municipalities can use as reference.

Also, MEXT established a consultation service where municipalities and school facility designers can seek technical advice.

17. Strength and limitations


The approach taken here emphasizes on prioritization and planning. The guideline emphasizes prioritization and urgency based on vulnerability assessment and also stresses the need to develop yearly plans for earthquake resistance projects which can be used to help in making administrative decisions.  Combined with efficient budgetary measures, municipalities can make plans and take action in making schools safe against earthquakes, systematically.  


The actual implementation of seismic resistance measures in school buildings is the responsibility of the municipal governments; therefore, the progress of the promotion of earthquake resistance relies on the motivation and decisions of municipal governments.  Though MEXT has taken measures to promote seismic safety of schools in all of Japan, due to the local financial and other situations, the progress varies largely between municipals.

18. Lessons learned through implementation if any

To promote earthquake resistance in school buildings, it is important to recognize the various factors the problem withholds in various levels.  The measures introduced here is an approach taken on the national level.

However, to make it effective, consideration is needed towards the factors on the local level.  Factors such as integration of schools in low population areas, methods for construction while using the building, educational needs of the local community, and other various local circumstances, combined and complicated, must be taken into consideration to produce material results.In the nation wide promotion tour, MEXT officials meet with the municipal government officials to promote and persuade local governments directly to take action.  Meeting with local authorities has helped MEXT know the various situations the local municipalities face and in some cases, meeting face to face with local governors has helped in persuading municipalities to make more effort in making schools safe against earthquakes. 


VI. Resources required

19. Facilities and equipments required

20. Costs, organization, manpower, etc.

VII. Message from the proposer if any

21. Message

VIII. Self evaluation in relation to applicability

22. How do you evaluate the technology/knowledge that you have proposed?

It is a technology/knowledge that Others

Method for promoting a policy.

23. Notes on the applicability if any

  The approach and the concept of systematical prioritization may be applicable in other countries.  However, the actual technology for prioritization may not be applicable in other countries because it is designed specifically for school buildings in Japan.   

IX. Application examples


    E1-1. Project name if available

    Model Projects for Promoting the Forming of Earthquake Resistance Promotion Plans for School Facilities

    E1-2. Place

      In order to promote “Guidelines for the Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings”   and its concept, MEXT has aided several local municipalities throughout Japan through model projects to form earthquake resistance promotion plans for school facilities. Each year, 5 to 10 municipalities or school establishers were selected as model project participants. Each participant examined their school facilities and gave each school building priority ranks according to the method presented in the “Guidelines for the Promotion of Earthquake-Resistant School Buildings”.

    The resulting priority ranks of each school building will be used to form plans for retrofitting school buildings.

    E1-3. Year


    E1-4. Investor


    E1-5. People involved

    Municipalities that participated in the Model Project for each year is as follows
    2003 Toyonaka-city (Osaka Pref.), Tachikawa-city (Tokyo Pref.)
    2004 Hokkaido Prefecture, Muroran-city (Hokkaido Pref.), Tomakomai-city (Hokkaido Pref.),
    Hachinohe-city (Aomori Pref.), Hitachinaka-city (Ibaraki Pref.)

    2005 Otaru- city (Hokkaido Pref.), Kushiro- city (Hokkaido Pref.), Nanai- city (Hokkaido
    Pref.), Hitachi- city (Ibaraki Pref.), Akitakada- city (Hiroshima Pref.), Uki- city
    (Kumamoto Pref.), Minamiaso-village (Kumamoto Pref.), Sasebo- city (Nagasaki Pref.)

    2006 Wakkanai- city (Hokkaido Pref.), Date- city (Hokkaido Pref.), Naka- city (Ibaraki
    Pref.), Ibaraki-town (Ibaraki Pref.), Shirosato-town (Ibaraki Pref.), Nara Prefecture,
    Zenntsuji- city (Kagawa Pref.), Nagasaki- city (Nagasaki Pref.), Shin-Kamigoto- city
    (Nagasaki Pref.), Amakusa- city (Kumamoto Pref.), Minamata- city (Kumamoto Pref.)
    2007 Nanyo-city (Yamagata Pref.), Ikeda-city (Osaka Pref.), Tsushima-city (Nagasaki Pref.),
    Joso-city (Ibaraki Pref.)

    E1-6. Monetary costs incurred

    The total cost MEXT funded for model projects each fiscal year is as follows:    


      Costs of the model projects consist of costs for (1)setting up committee, (2)survey and evaluation of school buildings, (3)forming earthquake resistance promotion plans.  The cost for each model project varies with each municipality. 

    E1-7. Total workload required

      Each model project was carried out within each fiscal year.

    E1-8. Evidence of positive result

      The process and results of the model projects were collected into reports which MEXT distributed throughout Japan for other local authorities to use as reference. 

X. Other related parallel initiatives if any


XI. Remarks for version upgrade


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