The basic policy of the Journal of Disaster Research (JDR), as a multidisciplinary academic journal, is to cover all types of disasters – except for war – through a broad comprehensive perspective. Since its inaugural issue in August 2006, the JDR has been published bimonthly, with six issues a year. 2015 marks the tenth year since the JDR’s first issue.
Among the many events happening during this decade is the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster which was induced by the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. This event had two major features – that the tsunami accompanying the earthquake caused the main damage and that it triggered a nuclear hazard accident at a nuclear power plant.
The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster was a unprecedented earthquake disaster called catastrophic hazard following two others – the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake Disaster that leveled Tokyo and the 1995 Hanshin Awaji Earthquake Disaster that destroyed parts of Osaka and Kobe.
In view of this catastrophic hazard’s scale, the JDR decided to publish special annual issues on the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster for five years since 2012 in addition to its regular issues. No publication fee was charged to contributors and support was asked from corporations. Papers on the special issues are published mainly online as an e-journal though printed editions are published for archival purposes.
The current issue is the fourth of these special issues, and contributors have covered the 2011 disaster from many a wide range of perspectives. 21 papers were submitted and 8 papers are accepted for publication after peer review. The editors are confident that, like the previous three issues, this issue fully measure up to the quality that was expected for the special issue.
I wish to express my gratitude to the contributors and reviewers and to thank corporations for their invaluable support.
In 2011, the radionuclide released from the nuclear power plant in Fukushima contaminated 3.4% of agricultural and marine products to a level exceeding the standard. After measures were introduced to inhibit radionuclide absorption and to decontaminate farmland, contamination exceeding regulatory limits fell to 0.002% in 2014. The 0.002% of contamination remaining involves fungi and wild edible plants from forested regions and some fish caught in rivers where decontamination has not been done. Restrictions were placed on shipments of food exceeding regulatory limits, so such food was never distributed. The allowable dose, which is the basis of regulatory limits of radionuclide concentrations in food in Japan is 1 mSv per year based on the guideline set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission which is responsible for establishing international standards for food. The issue of radioactive food contamination was thus resolved in a short time. According to a survey conducted 2014, the estimated radiation dose a person would consume over 1 year from radioactive cesium contained in food distributed for consumption ranged from 0.0007 to 0.0022 mSv a year. This amounts to less than 1% of the yearly permissible dose of 1 mSv.
This study analyzes data from telephone consultations made with a research institution during approximately one year following the March 11, 2011, Fukushima, Japan, Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Data was correlated with newspaper and online media coverage. During the analysis, many calls for consultation concerned aspects of daily life such as food, clothing, and housing and to radiation exposure during the accident. As the year of study went on, the proportion of consultation on daily life changed to more technical topics, such as dose measurement, scientific knowledge, natural radiation, and Russia’s Chernobyl accident. The topic of “children” raised the greatest number of consultations over the entire period; 20–40% of callers inquiring about soil, dose measurement and internal exposure asked also about children. Media reports on the topics consulted on were few except for those on dose measurement. The proportion of consultations on children and dose measurement may have been raised due to media reports circulating at about the same time. We concluded that it is important in postaccident risk communication that information related to daily living – especially protective measures that could be taken – and to effects on children be provided efficiently and at an appropriate timing.
Various lessons regarding initial and emergency responses to huge disasters in future can be derived from the processes of establishing and managing the Government’s Extreme Disaster Management Headquarters for the Great East Japan Earthquake. Huge disasters (L2) that might occur at a very low frequency and could cause tremendous damage can be controlled only to a limited extent by constructing infrastructure alone. In addition, because the picture of disasters that occur in different manners cannot be fixed, it is necessary to accumulate various infrastructural and non-infrastructural measures in the order of effectiveness from the standpoint of disaster risk reduction to accept and mitigate damage. Supports to disaster-affected people such as early recovery, evacuation, rescue, emergency medical life-saving, and emergency supplies in initial responses should be strengthened to promptly respond to disasters. For that purpose, it is important to establish a system that allows the government or prefectures to temporarily take disaster emergency measures when prefectures or municipalities lose administrative functions, formulate a system for the government to respond to huge disasters, and improve disaster information functionality, conduct drills and prepare for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
We cover surveys and planning covering the process from the review process for evacuation behavior to the formulation of disaster management plans after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. We focus on the community disaster management plan for the Ando district of Otsuchi town in Iwate Prefecture. We also examine processes and methods for transforming review results into documentation planning. Based on findings from a survey on evacuation behavior, we evaluate factors influencing evacuation behavior and analyze findings from a “Survey on the Situation of Death in the Ando District.” Based on results, we discuss workshops held on review meetings on disaster management planning for the Ando district neighborhood association. We close by extracting and summarizing the features and problems of Ando district tsunami disaster management.
Although over three years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, it is estimated that there remain approximately 135,000 evacuees from the nuclear power plant accident, 81,000 of whom had been living in areas under evacuation orders and 54,000 of whom had been living outside these areas (i.e., voluntary evacuees). However, the lived experience of such voluntary evacuees has been uncertain, as it is not possible to identify them. Consequently, it has not been possible to clarify the anxieties they harbor as they continue their extended existence as evacuees or to determine the issues they face in reconstructing their lives, making it difficult to extend suitable assistance measures. In this study, we worked with NHK to conduct a survey of voluntary evacuees. A list of interviewees compiled by NHK reporters was used to survey voluntary evacuees, who are difficult to identify. By analyzing the collected cases, we examined issues faced by “voluntary evacuees.” The results showed that the majority of the voluntary evacuees in this survey were mothers who had evacuated with their young children (but without their spouses) and who felt that they had had to evacuate due to anxieties about the effects of radiation exposure on their children’s growth. They tended to feel that it was difficult to return to their former areas of residence and that they had no choice except to continue living as evacuees. Furthermore, there were cases in which couples that had previously been living together had separated for reasons of work or place of occupation and had been forced into situations where they were obliged to economically support two households, with adverse effects on their budgets, minds, and bodies. In addition, the nuclear power plant accident made it difficult for them to decide where to base themselves in the future; in some cases, evacuees returned to their pre-disaster areas of residence only to evacuate again. Against the designation “voluntary,” the voluntary evacuees in this survey lived under circumstances in which they felt that they had had no choice but to evacuate; in enduring the difficulties of evacuation, they did not feel they had acted according to their voluntary will. This points to the need to implement effective assistance.
Tsunami monitoring is fundamental and essential for disaster warnings and rescue operations. The gigantic tsunami caused by the Tohoku earthquake off Japan’s Pacific coast in 2011 completely destroyed tsunami observation facilities along the seashore. The subsequent lack of real-time monitoring data caused confusions in devastated area rescue operations. These experiences indicate a need for more robust tsunami monitoring techniques to enable catastrophic events observation. We tested a hypothesis on whether secure onshore strain and tilt sensors could be used as tsunami gauges. We compared data from tsunami gauges and strain and tilt meters for 2011 Japan and 2010 Chile tsunami events clearly indicating that geodetic sensors recorded tsunami signals well. The high correlation between geodetic signals and tsunami height indicated that tsunami height could be estimated using only onshore geodetic data, i.e., secure onshore strain and tilt meters could act as robust tsunami monitoring systems when catastrophic events occur.
We’ve already been through three large earthquakes in just two decades – the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the 2004 Niigata Chuetsu earthquake, and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In those 20 years, disaster responses by institutions providing financial functions supporting regional daily life and social and economic activities have evolved from the simple duplication of information communication systems and disaster recovery plans (DRPs) for data backup into the business continuity plan (BCP) and to business continuity management (BCM) at the management level. The fact that regional financial functionalities cannot be managed simply by the efforts of financial institutions has been recognized during these disasters. It has been realized that a system enabling information sharing and cooperation with local governments in addition to collaboration with other financial institutions is needed. Efforts for enhancing the effectiveness of such a system should be made by financial functionalities that support local restoration and reconstruction.
Many natural disasters occur annually in the world and the damage ratio of Asia is especially high compared to other regions. Since the Japanese industry is highly dependent on Asian economy, the enterprises in Japan should consider carefully about the negative effect of supply chain disruption and its effective disaster reduction measures against natural disasters in Asian region. This paper consider integrated disaster information by using common numbering system for natural disasters which seem to be effective in promoting disaster risk reduction measures and the possibility of utilizing those common numbering system for BCP and BCM development for organization.