is 25 years on January 17 since the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquakes, the worst urban
seismic catastrophe in the post-war era. Every time when natural disaster hits
the country, the government has reviewed its policies on disaster prevention,
rescue operations and recovery plans. Many, however, criticize the nation’s
commitments as ‘patchy’.
WE SHOULD DO IN ORDER TO SAVE PEOPLE’S LIVES FIRST
earthquakes occurred at 5:46 in the morning on January 17, 1995, with the
epicenter located in the southern area of Hyogo Prefecture.
They were measured as Magnitude 7.3 and the maximum 7 on the Japanese intensity
scale. The natural disaster had been the largest after the end of World War II
before the East Japan Earthquakes hit the Tohoku region in 2011. In total 6,434
people were killed and 250 thousand houses were destroyed completely or half
collapsed. Another 900 people died of diseases in the make-shift houses,
including influenza, after they had survived the calamity, which occupies 14%
of all the victims. Additionally, over 1,100 people have died in solitary for a
period of 20 years in the houses built in the restoration plan. Many tragedies
happened even after the seismic disaster.
prevention measures were insufficient
year the Japanese archipelagoes were hit several times by record-making heavy
rains and powerful winds of typhoons. In many districts across the nation
people faced extraordinary damages. The government has hazard maps throughout
the country, but in some areas they were proven to be ineffective as refuge
centers and bases were placed officially in such dangerous zones..
for major water purification plants, 758 plants, or 22% of all, were built in
the estimated hazardous areas. Five hundred and seventy-eight of them, or 70%, leveling
jobs were absent at the entrance and watertight doors were not built in.
Furthermore, a discharge system was proven inadequate at some hydro-electric
stations; a dam releases water into a river when the heavy rains threaten the
hundreds tons of garbage was produced, too. But the disaster plan did not contain
guidelines for a flood disaster, like a temporary garbage storage facility and
initial operational arrangements. Some municipalities estimate it will take two
years to process all garbage. The central government continued calling people
to be alert to save a life, but some shelters in Tokyo could not accommodate all who wanted to
evacuate. Seventy percent of the victims were the elderly over 60 years old.
FEMA=Federal Emergency Management Agency of the United States, which Japan has
paid attention since the Hanshin earthquakes, has full-time service offices
managed by the federal budget in ten regions of the country.
rescue forces counts 6,258 troops, or approximately 50,000 members (as of
April, 2019). They are of the emergency and fire service support units
officially registered by each municipality and they respond to a disaster. But
a joint training is held once in a few years.
workers in local governments!
from lessons of the 2011 earthquakes, the Basic Acts for Natural Disaster
Measures was amended in 2015. Until then prevention steps had been arranged on
the municipality basis, and the revised law stipulates that prefectures and the
state authorities should help municipalities and that simultaneously each locality
makes its plans for prevention, emergency-response and recovery.
it is workers of local governments that are in charge of tasks of prevention,
evacuation, rescue and reconstruction. Currently, however, 40% of the municipal
workers are employed on the irregular basis. They are not full-time public
workers. That means a municipal government cannot play a right role both in
routine and emergencies, which the recent disasters verified.
an increase of workers in the municipal government is the key as a disaster