Exhortations for Japanese to be prepared took on special meaning at yesterday's annual Disaster Prevention Day drill, with the government telling citizens to stock up on toilet paper.
That's because more than 40 per cent of Japan's toilet paper is supplied by the high-risk earthquake zone of Shizuoka.
About 2.35 million people took part in the annual disaster drill, with the government hoping to prevent a catastrophe when the quake-prone country is next hit by a natural disaster.
Dry runs of evacuations, rescue operations and fire fighting were carried out across the nation to simulate an emergency response to an imaginary quake with a magnitude of 7.3 hitting Tokyo. "I order all the ministers to do their best to respond swiftly and appropriately by placing top priority on people's lives," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
The nationwide drill is held annually on September 1 - the anniversary of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, which killed more than 100,000 people.
Amid the usual warnings this year was a campaign calling on people to stockpile toilet paper, learning lessons from the 2011 earthquake in northeastern Japan, during which the country suffered a shortage of toilet rolls.
Toshiyuki Hashimoto, a ministry official in charge of paper products, warned of a nationwide month-long toilet paper shortage if the Shizuoka area were hit by a mega-quake.
A lack of toilet paper could cause further discomfort if people started using normal tissue paper, which could clog toilets.