There’s no need to pay to use payphones to let your family know you’re OK or tell response teams that you need help.

Early this morning, a powerful earthquake struck Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands. The magnitude 6.7-quake caused severe damage to both the local transportation network and power grid.

▼ The Hokkaido city of Hakodate, with a population of 260,000 before the earthquake (left) and after (right)

▼ A ruined street in Sapporo, Hokkaido’s capital city

In the modern, mobile-phone reliant era, a lack of electricity can often result in a communications blackout once your smartphone battery dies. So to help those living or traveling in Hokkaido get in touch with loved ones or emergency response teams, telecommunications provider NTT East Japan has announced that all payphones in Hokkaido can currently be used free of charge.

▼ A before/after comparison of the mountains in the town of Atsuma, showing the effects of massive landslides

This sort of generosity on the part of telecom companies is actually the norm in Japan, and is one reason why despite nearly everyone over the age of 15 having their own mobile phone, many municipalities still like having payphones within their city limits.

▼ Sapporo’s Kiyota Ward

The earthquake comes just days after a powerful typhoon slammed into Japan’s central Kansai region, showing that while Japan’s low crime rate and lack of dangerous animals makes it a very safe travel destination overall, it’s always important to be aware of the possibility of natural disasters, and to follow the instructions of the authorities when they occur.

Source: NTT East Japan
Top image ©SoraNews24
[ Read in Japanese ]