Day_156: Matsushiro Earthquake Center

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 April 5, 2010
NIED-DIL e-mail magazine: Matsushiro Earthquake Center

■ Matsushiro Earthquake Center ■

There is an organization called Matsushiro Earthquake Center in Matsushiro, Nagano Prefecture in Japan. The Center was established in February 1967 at the Japan Meteorological Agency in Matsushiro Town, Nagano Prefecture (now Nagano City) based on the Matsushiro Seismological Observatory which was established in 1947. The background of this establishment is that between August 3, 1965, and April 17, 1966, insensitive earthquakes, seismic intensities 5 and 4 were observed three times each and a total of 6,780 earthquakes were detected in the Matsushiro town area. This severe earthquake activity has become a major social problem.

It is famous that Mayor Nakamura at that time said that he wanted to learn and research more than things and money, and that was a starting point of the center. The center is also well known as the location which was planned to build the imperial general headquarter at the end of the second world war. Besides, It is known that the experience gained from the observation of the earthquake has dramatically influenced the progress of earthquake prediction and disaster countermeasures today.

The author is organizing the records of the discourse at the time with the cooperation of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Earthquake Observatory (Matsushiro Seismological Observatory) as the Disaster Information Office. I am surprised at the fascinating records. The fact that Matsushiro city was working to build a disaster-resilient town in the wake of an earthquake throughout the city is lively communicated. For example, there was not only research on the earthquake itself but also research on the health status of students, including psychological aspects from nearby schools caused by a swarm. This was due to the cooperation of Matsushiro health centers and hospitals. It does not stop there. Members were active in the front lines of various fields at the time, such as landslide surveys caused by earthquakes and the impact on water supply facilities during earthquakes, reports from various perspectives.

I am sorry that the format etc. is still insufficient, but I am starting to release these records on the HP in hopes that you can see it in a provisional form. Please see if you have time.


Now you can not access, but you can ask NIED DIL to have information.

Published on April 5, 2010

Matsushiro Seismological Observatory

Day_155: Recoveries from Disasters

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 March 5, 2010
NIED-DIL e-mail magazine: Recoveries from Disasters

■ Disaster Recoveries ■
Global attention is being focused on how recovery will take place after the Haiti earthquake. I have studied a lot about disaster recovery. Still, as a valid theory of thinking, a researcher named Haas says, “A rapidly growing city will recover quickly after the disaster but will remain unchanged and stagnant or downhill cities will recover very slowly after the disaster or will quickly decline “(1977). When considering what kind of area or a growing city or not is in this case, the population before the disaster could be examined as an indicator. I’ve researched a lot and predict that no matter how massive the distraction maybe, an area with a growing population may be easier to recover. For example, in the city of Nagoya, due to the Typhoon Ise Bay disaster, the scale of economic and social damages were plentiful, and the amount of aid was small, but it was said that it was revived in less than a year. In comparison, the scale of economic and social disasters in New Orleans due to the Hurricane Katrina disaster was not so large relatively as statistics, but the amount of aid was enormous. Nevertheless, it may be useful to say that five years have passed and that recovery has not yet been well. New Orleans was even expressed to be a surviving city, even before the disaster. Regarding the recovery of the stricken area of ​​the Indian Ocean tsunami, it is not clear here, but there were many similar trends.
Let’s return to the example of Haiti. Examination of the population growth rate in Haiti (Port-au-Prince) showed that it was overgrowing until the disaster occurred. Haiti’s revival should be relatively quick, given the population index alone. However, it is also possible that Haiti has an entirely different social situation that cannot be applied in the above example. You may have to think that Haiti’s revival will be heavily influenced by the very elusive variables of political steering and social conditions. There is an article in the magazine “ Economist ” that fears that similar problems may occur in Haiti, such as the problem of contributions and aid in the Indian Ocean cases where oversupply was unevenly distributed, and the damage was widened.
What do you think of Haiti’s recovery?

The data below indicates a lot about the theory.

Haiti Population Data

Port-au-Prince Population Data

Day_139(Rev) : A Disaster Recovery in an Aging Society : An Okushiri Town’s Case


Based on the disaster recovery theories as mentioned before in Day_92, A Okushiri town’s disaster recovery could be predicted, however, the town still has a lot of difficulties in the disaster recovery process. This was shown in Day_75.

Day_92 : Disaster Recovery Theory (2)


Day_75 : Okushiri Island (2)



Figure 1 Demographic Changes in Okushiri Town

The 1993 southwest-off Hokkaido earthquake hit Okushiri Island severely. Casualties are 198 (including the missing number)and the economic damage indicator mentioned in the above is 0.03(Day_92). This means human suffering is relatively high however economic damage is not so high to the country. However, aid volume from outside is 14.4 percent, as the indicator, and this is so outrageously huge compared to disasters in Day_92. This can be said in the reflection of the Japanese economic situation during the time.

Okushiri town had faced population decreasing and aging issues before the disaster. After the disaster, Okushiri town had a lot of aids, especially from the inside of Japan. Japan had a very good economy at that time, so the situation enabled them to have such huge aids. Even though the large economic assistance, the town’s demographic tendency before the disaster was facilitated and faces a severe recovery process.

The population was dropped to the 2nd worst in Japanese municipalities between 2005 and 2010 after the disaster. Okushiri’s population was decreasing before and after the disaster, for example, 27.4 percent decreasing from 1990 to 2009. In addition, the population of the island had a declining tendency before the disaster and this was facilitated by the disaster. The decreasing population before the disaster can be confirmed as 5,490 in 1980 and 4,604 in 1990, this means 16 percent decrease.

The aging proportion increased two times from 1990(15.6) to 2010(32.7). The aging proportion (over 65) before the disaster was increased from 10.0 percent in 1980 to 15.6 percent in 1990. The Japanese economy was expanding at the time and a huge amount of aid was coming to the town from outside and installed, however, this Okushiri town’s case supports the recovery theory(Figure 1).

Over 20 years after the disaster, Okushiri town gives us a lot of lessons. The followings are the points that we can learn from the lessons to build a resilient society in demographic challenges.

1. Financial aids allocations: balancing soft and hard countermeasures
2. A Long perspective on the disaster recovery process

Concerning the Financial aids allocations, a huge amount of financial assistance rushed to the town, however, the assistance went to the infrastructures, building houses, purchasing fishermen’s ships, and so on to help the people’s lives in the town after the disaster. This shows more emphasis on the reconstruction than the recovery.

With respect to the recovery process, they tend to miss a long perspective. The people in the town could rebuild their houses and purchase new fishermen’s ships. Infrastructures are also rebuilt after the disaster. However, they have had not so attractive industries which the younger generation would like to work and remain in the town to live their lives. The Okushiri becomes high resistance against the disasters town, however, the population is decreasing and aging is facilitating dramatically. This means not so high resilient town. In addition, the cost of infrastructure maintenance will be a burden for the town in the long run.

To be continued……

# This post will be partly published as a paper.

Day_105 : Relocations or Rebuildings (2)


Day_94 : Relocations or Rebuildings (1) (Tentative)

After the 1896 Meiji sanriku tsunami, many communities considered relocating to higher grounds, however, a few communities could proceed the relocations. The main reasons why they could not relocate to higher grounds are the followings (Nakasu et al., 2011):

1) It was very inconvenient for them to settle the areas which were far from the sea because they were mainly fishermen or living their daily lives by the sea.

2) Most of them were doing small size fishing related businesses, had not enough budgets to relocate.

3) There were difficulties to attain the agreements to do relocations among the community members.

4) They, community members, had conflicts with land owners to select and purchase the relocation lands.

5) There were technical limitations to create a land for living on the slope because Japan did not have enough technological level at that time.

They mainly relocated to higher grounds by their own decisions. However, some groups gave pressures on the people who had planned to move and tried to let them give up to do so because they would like to maintain the communities to recover.

A small number of the communities moved to higher grounds, however, some went back to their original places. In addition, their relatives or other village people started to live there. Some families positively accepted the immigrants from outsides to maintain their ownerships.

Finally, almost all communities had chosen to rebuild at the same places, so the risks were retained and this combined with the fact that they were re-affected by the 1933 Showa sanriku tsunami disaster.

Concerning after the 1933 Showa sanriku tsunami, this will be explained later.

Day_94 : Relocations or Rebuildings (1) (Tentative)

The communities in the Sanriku ria coast have been affected by tsunamis for a long time. After huge tsunami disasters, they have had always faced the difficulty to make a decision, relocations or rebuildings.
The below Figure 1 is the major tsunamis in the Sanriku ria coast.
sanriku tsunami history
Figure 1 Tsunami disasters in Sanriku ria coast (Cabinet office of Japan)
The Meiji sanriku tsunami in 1896 was the worst tsunami disaster ever in Japanese recorded history. The Showa sanriku tsunami in 1933 occurred in the midnight, however, they evacuated well because of the Meiji’s experience. As mentioned before, they always needed to choose relocations or rebuildings with the consideration of their resources after the tsunami disasters.
The decisions of each community can be seen in Table 1 (Tentative).
Table 1 Relocations or Rebuilding History of Communities after the Tsunami Disasters(Tentative Table: very rough translation, sorry. Will change soon)
                                                                                                      Ref. ( Nakasu,Tanaka, Miyake, 2011)
Some communities relocated to higher grounds after the tsunamis, however, they tended to go back to the original places because of their daily life’s convenience. They are mostly fishermen or making their living by the sea. We can imagine how difficult for them to live in the ground, far from the sea.
To be continued.