Japanese disaster history has three turning points. The first is the Typhoon Isewan (Vera) in 1959. The second is the Kobe earthquake disaster in 1995, the third is the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) disaster in 2011(Day_33).
You can see the following figure 1 which displays the dead and missing numbers caused by natural disasters in Japan.
Figure 1 The dead and missing numbers caused by natural disasters in Japan
After the second world war, Japan was vulnerable, so we had a lot of natural disasters, especially Typhoon disasters from 1945 to 1959. We call this 15 years a great flood and storm era. The first hit was Typhoon Makurazaki on Sep. 1945.The typhoon disrupted Hiroshima city. There were 1229 casualties in the city. This fact reminds us what happened in Hiroshima in the same year (Day_34(Re)).
The Isewan Typhoon has the following aspects: 1) Physical damages were tremendous 2) Lack of consideration of disaster prevention 3) Inadequate flood defense system 4) Inadequate warning and evacuation system ( The details will be explained later) After the Typhoon Isewan, disaster countermeasures basic act was enacted in 1961. The act combined many disasters related laws into one. After the Isewan Typhoon, we Japanese had thought we were successfully mitigating natural disasters. You can see the dead and missing numbers were dropped right after the Isewan Typhoon by Figure 1. This is mainly because of infrastructures and the development of science and technologies such as warning systems along with Japanese rapid economic growth. In addition, we had, fortunately, no huge natural hazards until the Kobe earthquake in 1995.
After the period of1960-1994, we have faced the Kobe Earthquake in 1995. Then, we realized that we could not prevent natural disasters, however, we could mitigate natural disasters after the earthquake. We also learned the importance of soft countermeasures as well as hard countermeasures. The Japanese Government had changed the policies again. The Kobe earthquake facilitated volunteer activities. Many social scientists started to investigate disasters. Before the disaster, natural scientists and engineers are the main players to do disaster-related research along with Japanese infrastructure centered policies. After that, we had confidence again and we thought we could be a model for other countries. The World Conference on Disaster Reduction was held in Kobe in 2005. Kobe city tried to be a center of world disaster-related organizations. (This Kobe earthquake disaster will be explained later)
However, we faced the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) disaster in 2011. The GEJET disaster became the worst ever disaster in Japan after the second world war. The GEJET broke the Japanese confidence again and reconsider our strategies.
To be continued
*Disaster countermeasures basic act: