Day_153 : Reported Death Numbers

I will update a column of the NIED e-mail magazine which I wrote a long time ago because the content is not faded with time. (I will do this step by step in Japanese and English) I will also add comments to update the situation.

Published February 4, 2010
NIED-DIL e-mail magazine: Reported fatalities due to disasters

January 12 There was a big earthquake in Haiti. The consequences are still a major social issue, but at an early stage, the President declared that the number of casualties reached 200,000.

At the time of the Hurricane Katrina disaster at the end of August 2005, the first report was 10,000 casualties. But, in the end, there was about 1,300. I felt that nationality, culture, and so on become apparent compared to Japan.

A typical case in Japan is the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. I was living in Kyoto and worked in Kyoto City at that time. I remember that around 7 a.m., it was reported on T.V. that there were only a few deaths. As time went by, it increased to hundreds and thousands.

The U.S. tends to have a top-down and strategic way; on the other hand, Japan seeks bottom-up and accurate process to disclose the number. In the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, reported death tolls in affected countries fluctuated, but taking this into account is a way to understand the disasters which reflect the country’s situations, including social backgrounds, cultures, economies, and so on.

Regarding Haiti, the number of reported deaths increases with time. I pray that the number will not be so huge.

For example, the following World Vision website considers the current estimated death to be 250,000. In short, the first report ended up gaining some meaning.

2010 Haiti earthquake: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Day_152 : (In Japanese) 災害による報告死者数











2010 Haiti earthquake: Facts, FAQs, and how to help

Day_133 : Science, Technology, Population, and Lessons for DRR

Japanese people have tended to trust the government and science & technology so much.
These are one of what we learned from recent disasters. After the second world war, Japanese gov. has built high sea walls along the coastline especially potential risk areas all over Japan. We have also developed warning systems along with rapid economic growth. Not only those, but we have also developed soft countermeasures such as disaster education and training, especially after the 1995 Kobe Earthquake. After the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) disaster, we have realized what has happened because of our over trust to the government and science&technology. This is why Japanese gov. has particularly focused on the community since the disaster, establishing a new frame on the community disaster planning in the disaster countermeasure basic act. The recovery plans on the affected coastal communities tended to change more integrated manners and so did disaster countermeasures than before, looks like turning back to the time when we did not have advanced science and technologies.

We need to know the limitations of the gov. and science&technology’s roles. We also can consider the demographic change to do the job for disaster risk reductions. For example, Japan is facing a severe aging society, so our government resources will be decreasing to cover the situations. We need to have more self-help and mutual help than public help.

Learning from the lessons and past wisdom with those considerations is also very important. “Inamura no Hi” is one of the important lessons we can learn from the past.

Day_88 : Inamura no Hi

“Inamura no Hi” is a story of a man who noticed a precursor of a large tsunami at the earliest stage and led village inhabitants to a higher ground by burning harvested rice sheaves. This story was based on a true story at the time of Ansei-Nankai Tsunami (1854), which claimed around 3,000 lives in the coastal areas of Western Japan (ADRC).

Hirokawa Town’s video well explains the background of the story in short and their tsunami disaster education.




Day_126 : World Disaster Chronology-1989

The accuracy will be improved with citing some data sources.

Date Place Disaster Type Situations
1989.01 USSR, Central (Tajikistan Inland Earthquake M5.3, Over 270(DM)
1989.04.20 China Hail Damage Over 150(DM)
1989.04.26 Bangladesh Tornado The Daulatpur–Saturia Bangladesh tornado*.1300(D)The deadliest tornado disaster in history. 
1989.05- Viet Nam Tropical Storm, Flood Over 740(DM), Tropical Storm Cecil
1989.05- Bangladesh Cyclone, Flood Over 200(DM)
1989.06- China Sichuan Torrential Rains, Flood Over 1,300(DM)
1989.06- Sri Lanka Torrential Rains, Flood 300-500(DM) 
1989.07- India Cyclone, Flood Over 2,700(DM)
1989.07- China Torrential Rains, Flood Over 1,500(DM)
1989.07- Bangladesh Torrential Rains, Flood Over 200(DM)
1989.07- Viet Nam Typhoon, Flood Over 200(DM)
1989.08.01 Iran, West Inland Earthquake M5.8, 120(DM)
1989.09- China Typhoon, Flood Over 520(DM)
1989.10.17 US, West (Calfornia) Inland Earthquake Loma Prieta earthquake **(M7.1) 62(DM), Damage cost 7bill.US

DM: The number of dead and missing.

*The Daulatpur–Saturia, Bangladesh tornado occurred in the Manikganj District, Bangladesh on April 26, 1989. There is great uncertainty about the death toll, but estimates indicate that it killed around 1,300 people, which would make it the deadliest tornado in history. The disasters in Bangladesh indicate natural disaster is not natural.                        Can refer Day_117.

Day_117 : Bangladesh-Disasters, Lands, and Statistics (2)

**The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake occurred in Northern California on October 17 at 5:04 p.m. local time. This earthquake happened in the northeast of Santa Cruz on a section of the San Andreas Fault.The death toll was relatively not high compared to the economic damage. This can be explained with developed countries, especially US disasters characteristics.  Can refer to The Day_119.

Day_119 : Disaster Trends and Incomes


Day_104 : Lessons from a Japanese Environmental Movement- The Matsumura Research Group (2)

Mishima Numazu Shimizu (MNS) environmental movement in 1963-1964 is the turning point of a Japanese environmental history. The core of the movement is the science-based issues, especially, The Environmental Impact Assessment conducted by the Government Research Group and the Local Research Group.

Day_96 : Lessons from a Japanese Environmental Movement- The Matsumura Research Group (1)

Proposed the Development Plan

The below Figure 1 and Table 1 indicate the proposed development plan. These are the companies which had planned to come to the area. You can also see the scale of the plan.

planned project MNS
Figure 1  Proposed an Industrial Complex Plan

Table 1 The Scale of the Plan

The planned MNS

What is the MNS Movement?
The following two factors can be highlighted to explain the MNS movement. The first, the survey carried out by students (KOINOBORI research). The second, a few hundred education programs (mainly for local citizens)

In regard to the student survey, the survey carried out by students of Numazu Technical High School consists of three types by using local materials which were KOINOBORI, empty bottles and thermometers. The KOINOBORI were used in the air current survey that was conducted by about 300 students. The students made some air current maps that showed that the government’s appraisal of wind direction was incorrect. These maps gave decisive data to the Matsumura research group. Empty bottles were used for the water current survey. Thermometers enabled the students to make some maps showing the variation of temperatures.

On the other hand, the results of the survey reported by students of East Numazu High School which were called “Petrochemical Complex Project in Numazu and Mishima Area” was conducted by a Local Research Club. They researched it by using social scientific methods (including the survey in Yokkaichi City). The MNS activists use this report.

With reference to the education programs, many education programs were conducted by Numazu Technical High School teachers. They were held at schools, at the town halls and in the streets. Because of the programs, local citizens (including farmers and fishermen) became eager to learn. Local citizens wanted to know what was going on in their locality.

The Students Participatory Survey

The following Figure 2  shows the wind directions are from the sea to the land. This map was created by the students during the Koinobori time. This means the local people would be influenced by the pollutions from the planned factories. However, the government survey appealed the different ways.

Wind directions student survey
Figure2  Wind directions survey conducted by high school students
(Source :  Mitsuo Taketani, 1967)

The Kurokawa Research Group (Gov. Research group) carried out the first largest ever Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) by the Japanese government in 1964. The representative was Dr.Masatake Kurokawa and the staff consisted of national academics. The budget was about 20 million yen (about 180,000 USD) at that time. The research was carried out by using helicopters and high-tech machines. The Kurokawa Research Group was nominated by the Minister of International Trade and Industry and the Minister of Public Health.

On the other hand, the Matsumura Research Group carried out the EIA by getting the cooperation of local people, including high school students. The representative was Dr.Seiji Matsumura and the staff consisted of two researchers with international experience and local high school teachers (Table 2). The budget was about 100 thousand yen (about 900 USD) at that time. The research was conducted using readily available materials and low-tech manpower (for example, Koinobori research). It meant that research people, as well as the local people and high school students, used their own ideas. The Matsumura research group was nominated by the Mayor of Mishima city, Mr.Taizo Hasegawa. They use students, local materials, and Japanese culture.

Table 2 Matsumura Research Group

local research group members
* I have life stories about them by interview surveys

The Formation of the Matsumura Research Group

The following is the formation process of the Matsumura Research Group. The National Institute and the Local high school have bonded together. These make ‘Think globally, act locally’.

  1. Education Seminar about Pollution Held by Two High School Teachers and a Professor
  2. Explanation of the Estimated Pollution Levels Given to the NIG (National Institute of Genetics) by Mr.Nagaoka and Mr.Nishioka (Teachers)
  3. Decided by the NIG Members to Refuse the Petrochemical Complex Plan
  4. Advice Given to Mishima City’s Mayor (Hasegawa) from the NIG Members to Establish the Research Committee for EIA
  5. Decision by Hasegawa to Reject the Proposed Petrochemical Complex
  6. Acceptance of Numazu Technical High School and NIG to do EIA in the Area

To be continued.

Day_96 : Lessons from a Japanese Environmental Movement- The Matsumura Research Group (1)

Mishima Numazu Shimizu (MNS) environmental movement in 1963-1964 is the turning point of a Japanese environmental history. The core of the movement is the science-based issues, especially, Environmental Impact Assessmentsconducted by the Government Research Group and the Local Research Group.

They fought the results and local people finally assisted the local research group research findings and explanations to choose their future.

Actually, this is the first national EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) in Japan, which failed and almost all Japanese do not know.

I conducted field research on the local research group for a long time. I stayed local member’s house for over 1 week and collected the documents, for example. Unfortunately, almost all members have passed away now. The followings are the outlines.

In 1963, the national government and local councils proposed the one large industrial complex in Mishima city, Numazu town, and Shimizu town area in Shizuoka prefecture near to the Mt.Fuji.This was one of the largest development projects in Japan at that time. After this announcement, the MNS environmental movement was started with the local people. Local high school teachers and national research institute researchers led this movement with their scientific and local knowledge.

Revolutionary Events in the MNS Movement
– The survey carried out by high school students (KOINOBORI research)
because it happened  in a KOINOBORI time (Japanese culture)
→A high school teacher (The Matsumura Research Group member) led this survey.
→These results were accurate in the local wind direction which was against governmental research findings with explanations. Gov. research group had a huge budget, they used a helicopter to check the wind directions

Figure 1 Koinobori   (Source: Wikipedia)

– A few hundred education programs (mainly for local citizens)

The Main Impact of the MNS movement
Former high-ranking officer confessed:
“We (the government) thought we had lost when the Numazu citizens flew those KOINOBORI (carp-shaped streamers) for research purpose. Besides that we also realized that we needed to make laws governing pollution. If we had not done it, we could not have been able to set up any MNS type projects”

The Main Impact of the MNS movement
Prevention Movement against Pollution
Local Government Reform Movement
Legal Action in the Movement
Conducting Independent Research
Implementing Environmental Education Programs

After the movement, Kawasaki City, Tokyo Metropolitan Area,
and Kyoto City became reformist local governments, which
control pollution more seriously than the national government.

Matsumura Research Group
Outcome: “Self Assessment” by the local research group overcome
the “Official Assessment” by the national research group

Mr. Shiramatsu (LDP) criticized during the time in the assembly:
“The Kurokawa Research Group (the national research group) is reliable.
It consists of the country’s most respected specialists in various fields.
They could be called the nation’s best brain. On the other hand, the
Matsumura Research Group (the local research group) is unreliable.
The member are 2 doctorates of Agriculture and 4 high school teachers.
How could they carry out reliable research?
In addition, I heard the budget
of the Matsumura Research Group is about 100 thousand yen. So the research
could be regarded a non-scientific thing”.

To be continued・・・・・

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Day_81 : Earthquake disasters in Asia (1) – Iran

Iran is the one of the most earthquake vulnerable countries in Asia. The following is the high death tolls earthquakes in the country:

2003 Bam Earthquake (M6.8) Death Toll approx.43,000
1990 Majil Earthquake (M7.4) Death Toll approx.50,000
1978 Tabas Earthquake (M7.4) Death Toll approx.18000

Death toll numbers are totally different from the sources.The above death toll data from NIED DIL (National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, Disaster Information Laboratory) Website**.These gaps tell us a lot of things. This will be explained later.

Especially, the Bam was an ancient city which has many historical buildings and 90% of them were destroyed.

One of the main causes of the casualties is the house building structures, adobe (mud brick). The Adobe is good for thermal mass, however bad for earthquakes. This is very embedded in their culture.
EM-DAT* indicates the Iran’s historical disasters since 1900. We can confirm the Iran is the earthquake prone country as shown in the below table.

*D. Guha-Sapir, R. Below, Ph. Hoyois – EM-DAT: The CRED/OFDA International Disaster Database – – Université Catholique de Louvain – Brussels – Belgium.


Day_72 : 1983 Sea of Japan earthquake

The 1983 Sea of Japan earthquake or 1983 Nihonkai-Chubu earthquake occurred on May 26.The magnitude of the earthquake was 7.8.It occurred in the Sea of Japan. The mortality number was 104 and 100 were caused by the tsunami. The tsunami hit communities along the coast, especially, Aomori and Akita Prefectures and the east coast of Noto Peninsula.
There are three things to share about the tsunami disaster.
The first is the tsunami generated location, the second is the broadcasting, and the third is the victims of school children. The first, there was an ancient tradition which tsunami never hit the coast of the sea of Japan. This normalcy bias* exacerbates the damage. The second, this was the first tsunami disaster  broadcasted all over the world during the time. The people who had homevideo also contributed to the media. The tsunami warning system, wireless tsunami information from the sea of Japan to the local area, to inform local people was improved after the event. The third, 43 school children were hit and 13 were passed away. They were on an excursion. The school teacher could not do anything during the time. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster also had some teachers related issues. The both tsunamis were daytime tsunamis.

*Normalcy bias

Day_57 : Normalcy Bias

Day_70 :災害対応と文化 [Japanese]

防災科学技術研究所 自然災害情報室のメールマガジン*第7号の記事を転載致します。
*防災科学技術研究所 自然災害情報室メールマガジン