Day_196 : The Matsushiro Earthquake Center

The following is a reprint of a column I once wrote:

The Matsushiro Earthquake Center, nestled in the historic town of Matsushiro within Nagano Prefecture, represents a pivotal chapter in Japan’s approach to seismic research and disaster mitigation. Established in February 1967 under the auspices of the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Seismological Observatory, this institution was born out of a critical period marked by intense seismic activity. Between August 3, 1965, and April 17, 1966, the region experienced a staggering 6,780 seismic events, ranging from imperceptible tremors to significant quakes measuring intensity 5 and 4 on the Japanese scale. This unprecedented series of earthquakes not only posed a major societal challenge but also catalyzed the center’s founding.

The initiative to establish the center was strongly influenced by the then-mayor of Matsushiro, Nakamura, who famously prioritized the pursuit of knowledge and research over material wealth. This sentiment laid the groundwork for what would become a crucial site for earthquake prediction and disaster preparedness efforts, situated on the historical grounds of the Imperial Headquarters.

Drawing from my experience at the Natural Disaster Information Office and in collaboration with the Precise Earthquake Observation Office of the Japan Meteorological Agency (now known as the Matsushiro Earthquake Observatory), I have had the unique opportunity to organize and delve into discussions from that era. Despite being born after the seismic events in Matsushiro, I find the archival records fascinating. They not only recount the collective efforts of Matsushiro’s residents to forge a disaster-resilient community in the aftermath of the earthquake but also highlight the comprehensive nature of the research conducted.

The inquiries extended beyond seismic analysis, encompassing a holistic examination of the earthquake’s impact on the community. Noteworthy is the health survey conducted on students from a local school, in collaboration with the Matsushiro Health Center and hospital, to assess the psychological and physical effects of the seismic swarms. Moreover, the scope of investigation included studies on earthquake-induced landslides and the repercussions on water infrastructure, showcasing the multifaceted response from various experts and frontline workers of the time.

This rich tapestry of collective memory and scientific inquiry underscores the enduring spirit of Matsushiro—a community united in its commitment to disaster resilience, informed by the lessons of its past.


Day_194 : Tsunami Up and Down

When a large earthquake occurs at the bottom of the ocean, the ground suddenly lifts and sinks. This movement directly affects the surface of the ocean, creating large waves that spread far and wide. This is the typical way an earthquake-induced tsunami starts. Smaller earthquakes do not cause tsunamis because the shape of the ocean floor does not change much. Also, if an earthquake occurs very deep in the ocean, tsunamis do not occur because their effects do not reach the surface of the ocean. Large tsunamis are caused by huge earthquakes in deep ocean trenches, which are caused by the subduction of the Earth’s plates. In this type of earthquake, the ocean surface is pushed up or pulled down. On the side where the ocean is pushed up, the waves rise; on the side where it is pulled down, the ocean lowers. Which of the two is the first wave of a tsunami has a lot to do with how you perceive the danger and how you escape; the nature of the tsunami that hit Sumatra in 2004 (magnitude 9.0) caused the southern part of Thailand to be hit by a wave that pulled the ocean down, and the nature of this tsunami increased the damage.

Day_190: The Future of Safety: Emphasizing Disaster Risk Reduction Education

The Increasing Importance of Disaster Risk Reduction Education

In an era marked by more frequent and severe natural and man-made disasters, the necessity for communities to be prepared and resilient is paramount. The crux of achieving this resilience lies in disaster risk reduction education. This education covers a broad spectrum of activities designed to inform communities about disaster risks and the steps necessary to mitigate their effects. Beyond understanding the scientific mechanisms of disasters, this education emphasizes the human and social factors contributing to vulnerabilities, adopting a comprehensive approach that encompasses knowledge of disaster types, their causes, and management strategies. By equipping communities with essential knowledge and skills, disaster risk reduction education cultivates a culture of safety and resilience, essential for confronting disasters effectively.

Building Disaster-Resilience Communities through Education

Disaster risk reduction education’s role in fostering prepared communities is invaluable. It equips individuals with the knowledge and skills for proactive disaster risk reduction, promoting a preparedness culture and self-reliance. This education bridges scientific knowledge and local wisdom, enhancing community awareness of risk reduction measures and fostering community cohesion. The solidarity and collective responsibility nurtured through this education are vital for effective disaster response and recovery.

Comprehensive Strategies for Effective Disaster Risk Reduction Education

Effective disaster risk reduction education programs are characterized by their comprehensive nature, inclusivity, and adaptability. Essential components include risk assessment, community engagement, interdisciplinary approaches, and context-specific content, all aimed at addressing the unique needs and vulnerabilities of each community. Schools and community centers play pivotal roles in disseminating this education, serving as hubs for knowledge sharing and skill development.

Technological Advancements Enhancing Education Efforts

Technology offers innovative ways to enhance disaster risk reduction education. E-learning platforms, mobile applications, social media, and immersive technologies like virtual and augmented reality are transforming how communities engage with disaster preparedness. These tools provide accessible, interactive, and engaging learning experiences, broadening the reach and impact of educational efforts.

Global Initiatives and Success Stories

Global initiatives, such as those led by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and frameworks like the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, highlight the international commitment to disaster resilience through education. Success stories from countries like Bangladesh, Japan, Haiti, New Zealand, and Mexico illustrate the transformative impact of comprehensive disaster risk reduction education programs. These examples demonstrate significant reductions in disaster-related fatalities and enhanced community preparedness.

Looking Ahead: Future Directions in Disaster Risk Reduction Education

The future of disaster risk reduction education will be shaped by technological innovation, community-led initiatives, and an increased focus on social and environmental justice. Collaboration and integration into broader development agendas, including the Sustainable Development Goals, are essential for addressing the complex challenges posed by climate change and urbanization.

A Call to Prioritize Disaster Risk Reduction Education

The path to mitigating disaster impacts lies in empowering communities with the knowledge and skills for disaster risk reduction and response. A collective effort from governments, organizations, and individuals worldwide is necessary to prioritize and advance disaster risk reduction education. Together, we can build more resilient and sustainable communities capable of withstanding the challenges of our changing world.

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_62 : liquefaction

After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster, Chiba prefecture (including Disney Land and Disney Sea) faced liquefaction Problems. The liquefaction means a phenomenon whereby a saturated or partially saturated soil substantially loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress, usually earthquake shaking or other sudden change in stress condition, causing it to behave like a liquid *. There were many houses in Chiba prefecture inclined caused by the liquefaction. The people living in the houses lost their health such as dizzy and nauseous symptoms. They also faced financial challenges to fix their houses. Niigata earthquake in 1964 is very famous for the liquefaction as you can see the below Wikipedia site.

NIED(National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention) developed “Ekky” to explain liquefaction for mainly school children.


Day_50 : NWC and Univ. of Oklahoma

Do you know the disaster movie, twister*? This is a very nice movie to recognize the tornado disasters and scientific perspectives. The one of the model location is Oklahoma.

I had an opportunity to visit the National Weather Center (NWC) **and University of Oklahoma to study on disaster information process in 2007, sorry long long time ago. The NWC is located in the University campus. The NWC is the core of not only research activities, but also for contributing to the general public. The University has a lot of shelters inside the buildings***.

The University was active to disseminate the information to the general public. Especially, I learned a lot about the university’s social role for local communities.

There were some shelters in front of the houses in the areas****.




*** University’s auditorium (Can be transformed to a shelter during the time)




I will write more……

Day_20 : Disaster Education

Every problem can be returned to education because people create the problem. Education can be categorized into the following three types: formal, nonformal, and informal. Formal education means school education. The non-formal education indicates the education provided by local communities, etc. Informal education is education in the family for example, from parents to children. Disasters are created by human activities, as you may know. Therefore, disaster education, of course, is very important. Disaster researchers can somehow learn this kind of basic knowledge about education as a subject to develop our points of views. We need to know that education is a very familiar but very deep word.