The national and Tokyo metropolitan governments have decided to revise guidelines governing "temporary stay facilities" to ensure enough space is available to shelter people who cannot return home immediately after a disaster such as an earthquake directly beneath the capital, sources said.
Many facilities, such as large commercial establishments, have hesitated over allowing people onto their premises due to worries about potential problems.
At present, only enough space to serve 20 per cent of expected demand has been secured in Tokyo, which could leave as many as 730,000 people with no place to go.
To gain the cooperation of businesses, the governments intend to add exemption clauses to the guidelines, the sources said. People who cannot return to their homes would be able to use facilities if they signed a form agreeing to various conditions.
The government expects employees and students to stay at their companies or schools should public transportation come to a halt due to a major earthquake.
However, a disaster could leave about 920,000 shoppers, tourists and others stranded with no place to stay.