A 69-year old landlord in Okazaki City, Aichi Prefecture, has been ordered to demolish his apartment building after it was found to be have been built to insufficient earthquake-resistance standards.
Of Japan’s apartment buildings built prior to 1970 to older and less stringent earthquake standards, only 16% have been inspected to see whether they can withstand a large earthquake.
In February, the Condominium Management Companies Association conducted a survey of 2100 pre-1970 apartment buildings nationwide. From the individual management companies that responded, only 16% reported that a building inspection was carried out to assess their building’s earthquake resistance, and almost all were found not to meet current standards. Only 3% of the surveyed buildings had actually carried out any earthquake reinforcing work.
The Yokohama District Court has ordered that an architect office and building inspection company pay compensation of 1.4082 billion Yen (17.6 million USD) to owners of the 37 apartments in St. Regis Tsurumi after it was established that the building has insufficient earthquake resistance.
The building was inspected by Nippon ERI, who noticed that the building’s strength did not meet standards and requested that the architect office correct the mistake. The mistake was corrected on paperwork in handwriting and ERI failed to notice the forged revision.
Just after the March 11 Tohoku earthquake it was announced that zero buildings had collapsed, which everyone naturally assumed was a testament to the strict building codes in Japan.
However, it has now been acknowledged that 100 apartment buildings in Sendai city have been completely destroyed.
Starting in Fall, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government will issue certificates for free to buildings that satisfy current earthquake-resistance standards. The certificates will cover office buildings, apartments and houses and will be issued to all who apply.
The certificate can be displayed at the building entrance to put building occupants at ease. While self-governing bodies have been creating assistance measures, there are over 500,000 buildings in Tokyo that do not meet minimum earthquake-resistance levels. The city hopes that the introduction of the certificate will encourage owners of unsafe buildings to have them upgraded.