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Japan ups damage seen from feared quake to $2.3T

A government panel has revised sharply upward the estimated damages expected from a quake expected to strike in the Pacific off the coast of central Japan, raising the urgency of disaster preparedness for much of the country's eastern coast.

The Cabinet Office said in a report carried by all major newspapers that the estimate of 220 trillion yen ($2.3 trillion) in damage was based on expectations for a magnitude 9 earthquake striking in the Nankai Trough, which runs from just southwest of Tokyo to the east of the southern island of Kyushu.

A magnitude 9 earthquake struck off the northeastern coast in March 2011, unleashing a massive tsunami that killed nearly 20,000 people.

The Cabinet intends to use the higher damage estimate in drawing up disaster preparedness plans.