View of Kachidokibashi Bridge and Sumida River in Tokyo. Photo: Wikipedia / Ian Muttoo

Japanese scientists warn that a mega-quake as big as the one in 2011 could hit northern Japan in the next 30 years.

If Tokyo is affected, the Asahi Shimbun says Japan’s Transport Ministry is considering an emergency evacuation plan that would allow foreign visitors to use local rivers to flee the Japanese capital  if a disastrous earthquake strikes.

The move is tied to contingency planning for the 2020 Olympic games which will be held in Tokyo.

A big quake could destroy large parts of the Tokyo area and paralyze local transport networks.

But Tokyo has a number of rivers running through it that may escape harm in an earthquake. There would be minimal risk of tsunami-effect along these rivers, Asahi quoted the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as saying.

Under the plan being mulled, foreign visitors would be advised to travel by train or foot to less-impacted areas near rivers and use boats to get to an airport.

The Tamagawa river is reportedly one example. It runs along western Tokyo and empties into Tokyo Bay near a reclaimed island that houses Haneda Airport in Ota Ward.

The government wants to raise the annual number of foreign tourists visiting Japan to 40 million by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Because of this, officials want to be ready to help them if a major disaster occurs.

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