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_89 : Disaster Recovery Theory (1)

First, the theoretical examination’s concept is explained and two disaster recovery theories are introduced. Second, the first theory is explained and studied. Third, the second theory is explained and examined*.

The concept is explained as follows:

The concept

Figure1  Disaster Recovery Concept

The followings are the two disaster recovery theories used for this study.
1) Theoretical framework 1
Disasters contribute to change, they do so primarily by accelerating trends that are already underway prior to impact <Bates et al.(1963); Bates(1982); Bates and Peacock (1993)><Haas et al.(1977)>

2) Theoretical framework 2
Disaster Recovery Process is influenced by
① Devoted aid volume from outside society
② Disaster scale
③ Community strength(Social System Strength) <Hirose(1982)>

The first theory is confirmed by some cases. You can see the following figures such as Kanto earthquake, Fukui earthquake, Typhoon Isewan in Japan, and Hurricane Katrina in US.
 Disaster Recoveries in Japan

Figure3 The Disaster Recovery from Hurricane Katrina in US.

To be continued…………………..

*This is  the presentation summary. The presentation was made in 2011 after the tsunami in Japan.

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