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_87 : North and Central Americas – Mt. St.Helens and Mt.Pelee

1.Volcanic Disasters

North America
Mount St.Helens erupted in 1980. 57 people were dead.
St.Helens volcanic eruption was really huge. You can see this from the following video.

From environmental sociological perspectives, the difference between the U.S. and Japan is that the people and nature’s relationships. This case indicated that somehow. The people are living far from the nature, Mt.Helens. That is why the fatality number was not so large compared to the huge eruption. In Japan, people tend to live near the nature and live with the nature. This call “Satoyama” in Japanese. Other Asian countries are the same with Japan.
This will be discussed later.

Mount Pelee
St.Pierre city, the city was destroyed completely in 1902 by the Mt.Pelee’s eruption.
The population of the city was approx. 28000: almost all were dead, only 2 survived. One of the only two survivors was in a prison. The story can be seen from the following video.

2. Climate, meteorological, and hydrological disasters: Hurricanes

North America
1900 Galveston, death toll was over 6000
2005 Katrina, the death toll was over 1400, the cost was 100 Bil. UDS
1998 Mitch, 13,700 were victimized in Honduras and 3,300 were so in Nicaragua
Hurricane Jeanne,  2800 were killed in Haiti

These will be also discussed later.


※Disaster data, such as death toll source is NIED DIL homepage.

Day_76 : 1995 Kobe Earthquake victims

1995 Kobe Earthquake gives us a lot of lessons. Today I am going to give you the following two questions.
1) Why were so many early 20s victimized?
2) Which floor is more dangerous, 1st or 2nd?

1) Please look at the following picture. You can see the victims’ age distribution. Females and elderlies are more likely victimized because of their lack of physical strength. However, why did so many early 20s die? Yes, they were university students. There are many universities in Kobe. Students tended to be not so rich. They tended to stay on the 1st floor in wooden cheaper apartments.

kobe victims age distributions

2) You already know the answer. Of course, the first floor is more dangerous, especially in a wooden house. 1981 is the year in which the Japanese government set the building code. So the buildings, apartments, etc. built after the year tended not to be destroyed by the earthquake, including the Kobe earthquake.


Photo: Dr.Takashi Inokuchi

We should learn the lessons from the disaster, this is the way which we can do for the victims.

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_71: The Tsunami history in Tohoku : 1896 Meiji sanriku tsunami

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) disaster is the deadliest disaster after the Second World War in Japan. The earthquake happened at 2:46 pm, 11st of March in 2011. The total casualty number is 19,846 based on the EM-DAT. The max. tsunami height is 40m at Sanriku ria coast. The first wave arrival is approx. 30 min. after the earthquake.

The Sanriku areas have a special geographical condition mentioned as a Sanriku ria coast. The coast has mountains close to the sea, so residential areas are limited only in the distributed narrow and lower zones near to the sea and the areas become very vulnerable against the tsunamis. The bays in the coast are small and the sea inside the bays is very deep. This makes tsunami faster and higher, this is why the Sanriku ria coast makes the highest tsunami risk area in the world.

Because of these characteristics, the communities in Sanriku ria coast, mainly in Iwate prefecture historically has been severely affected by tsunami disasters such as Meiji Sanriku Tsunami (Meiji (1896)), Sowa Sanriku Tsunami (Sowa (1933)), and Chilean Earthquake Tsunami (Chilean (1960)) disasters compared to the flat coast mainly in Miyagi prefecture and other areas in Japan.

I will explain a little bit about the Meiji (1896). This disaster is so-called a surprise attack, tsunami disaster happened at approx. 7:30 pm, 15th of June in 1896 mainly in the Sanriku ria coast. The dead and missing number has reported over 22,000. The earthquake is not so strong (Japanese earthquake scale indicates Shindo 1-2), however, the tsunami is very strong and high (max. height is 38.2m at Ayasato area (present Ofunato city)) compared to the earthquake movement scale. This makes severe impacts.We call this huge tsunami caused by a weak earthquake, Tsunami Earthquake. The first wave arrival is approx. 35m after the earthquake. The Meiji (1896) has been the worst tsunami disaster ever in Japan.

In 1611, the larger tsunami (Keicho Sanriku Tsunami*) than Meiji hit the Sanriku area. That could be also “tsunami earthquake”. After that, every 40 years, the people in the area tended to have a big tsunami. Even though they had such experiences, they did not have good tsunami disaster countermeasures and also the tsunami was “tsunami earthquake”. In addition, they had some ancient traditions like a tsunami is a punishment from the Gods and Buddha. These are the main causes to make the Meiji worse.

* Keicho Sanriku Tsunami

The Kyodo news company has obtained the pictures on the Meiji(1896)

Day_48 : 1995 Kobe Earthquake(2) : Disaster-related death

So many people, especially elderly, die after the events because of stress, sickness, suicide, and others. We call this a disaster-related death. Kobe earthquake became the trigger to notice this. Over 1,126 were reported as dead not by direct effects of the earthquake. They were aged and easy to get sick and become worse with the circumstances around them such as cold weather, insanitary situations, and private matters after the disaster. They had stressful conditions. They worried about their future, which could not see. 3,472 people (2016.3.31)*were reported as dead, disaster-related death, after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster in 2011.

* Disaster-related death number by 2011 tsunami is still increasing.


Day_46 : 松代群発地震(Matsushiro Earthquake)[Japanese]





Day_42: 人口と災害【3】:人口研究とアジア[Japanese]


William Donner and Havidan Rodriguez(2008)は、気候変動より、人口変動による将来の自然災害によるリスクの重要性を指摘している。現実問題として、将来の気候変動による災害に対する影響などは、IPCCなどの主導による研究に代表されるように多くの研究成果が主に自然科学者などにより実施されているが、人口の変動による将来の災害に対する影響の研究は、指標研究を含めてほとんど語られていないのが現状であり、課題となっている。


Munich Re(ミュンヘン再保険会社)によるデータによれば、1980年から2014年における、アジア、アフリカ、北・中央アメリカ、南アメリカ、オーストラリア/オセアニアに分類した世界全体の地域別自然災害のうち、アジアの占める割り合いは、死者数で、69%、経済損失で40%に及び、最も脆弱な地域であることを示している。また同時にアジアは、沿岸部への人口の集中とともに、高齢化が特に進んでいる地域でもある(大泉 2007)。これらは、アジアにおける自然災害に対する脆弱性は今後ますます高まると言っても過言ではない。将来気候変動が叫ばれるなか、さらに日本では、南海トラフや首都直下地震、さらには、2016年の熊本地震で示されるように、いつどこで起こってもおかしくない地震をはじめ、ハザードの側面、及び、進む少子高齢化など社会的脆弱性の側面、両面からリスクは増加する傾向にあるといってよい。それらのリスクへの対応としては、ハザードすなわち自然現象に対するアプローチは主に工学や自然科学分野で多くなされているが、社会的脆弱性という意味での少子・高齢化などによるリスクへの影響に関する研究は、今後の災害対策を考えるうえでも益々重要な位置づけとなるだろう。


Day_37: 伊勢湾台風災害, 流木被害, そしてフィリピン [Japanese]

伊勢湾台風とフィリピン、つながらないようで、実はつながっています。もともと、フィリピンに着目したのは、災対法及び防災科研が設立するきっかけとなった伊勢湾台風災害の流木被害(多くの犠牲者を生んだ)に興味をも ち、その関係を調べていると、その木材の90%はフィリピンからのラワン材 で、名古屋で加 工して、朝鮮戦争後の住宅ブームのアメリカに輸出するという構図に着目してからです。南区の犠牲者の多くがこの流木によって、家屋が破壊されたことによるものだったからです。これは朝鮮戦争からの流れ、アメリカの影響による木材の自由化などとつなが り、また、フィリピンの森林破壊(当 時輸出の8割強が日本)と日本の森林の 衰退とつながり、これが現在まで続くフィリピンの洪水、土砂災害日本の地震や 豪雨による地 すべりや、少し強引には花粉症問題がでているというのが見えてきました。


Day_35 : Technological Disasters

Concerning the technological disasters in Japan, we had a lot of pollution issues after the Second World War. We had been seeking economic development first and tended to neglect the side effects. There are four major issues, Minamata disease, Niigata Minamata disease, Yokkaichi asthma, and Itai-itai disease. The issues had been uncovered, especially from the late 1950s to 1960s.

The followings are the youtube videos from TVE we can see the situations.