Journal of Disaster Research (JDR) published its first issue in August, 2006. Since then, we have published six issues a year on a bimonthly basis. JDR is an academic journal aimed at bringing a broad, comprehensive discussion to the subject of disasters, and thus contributing to the field of disaster prevention and reduction.
Its comprehensive coverage harbors the risk of becoming unfocussed or fostering unsubstantiated conclusions. At JDR, we have dealt with this risk by making most issues special feature issues, and inviting specialists in the relevant fields as guest editors.
The Great East Japan Earthquake occurred on March, 2011, five years after our first issue was published. It was a Mw9.0 earthquake that occurred off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region. The earthquake triggered a tsunami which produced huge casualties, amounting to over 18,000 dead or missing persons. The disaster was accompanied by a nuclear plant accident, an unprecedented event in mankind’s history. The catastrophic accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Company, resulted in core meltdown and the release of radioactive material.
At JDR, we considered it our responsibility to publish, apart from our regular issues, special issues on the Great East Japan Earthquake consisting of five yearly issues beginning with the first issue in 2012. This issue, Part 5, is the final issue. We would like to thank all of the authors who submitted articles for the five special issues, the reviewers, and many others who contributed. The special issues project on the Great East Japan Earthquake will be passed down to a special issue on the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes occurred on April, 2016 in Kumamoto, Japan.
In this paper, I discuss from a philosophical viewpoint the so-called radiation problem that resulted from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. The starting point lies in the conceptual distinction between “damage due to radiation” and “damage caused by avoiding radiation.” We can recognize the direct “damage due to radiation” in Fukushima as not serious based on the empirical data so that I focus upon the problem of the “damage caused by avoiding radiation,” particularly the damage due to evacuation actions. Actually, evacuation actions caused more refugees to die of suicide and diseases than supposed. Obviously, there is a practical problem on whether the forceful and emergent evacuation was needed. In addition, I will point out that some people psychologically had negative feelings about the radiation problem altogether, for example, absurdity, discomfort, anxiety, or distrust, where some of them tend to twistedly solve those by giving moral censure to people and the product in affected areas. This brought about serious harm to people in Fukushima. I will interpret some people’s careless adoption of precautionary principle and their misunderstanding of the legal standard in radiation protection as being latent in this tragedy.
In large-scale disasters and the subsequent recovery process, land usage and urban spatial forms change. It is therefore important to use this process as an opportunity to create a more sustainable spatial structure. This study considers the urban spatial transformations that took place after the Great East Japan Earthquake, their causes, and accompanying issues by investigating building construction in the recovery process. The authors discovered that individual rebuilding is primarily concentrated in vacant lots within the city’s existing urbanized areas. This is likely due to the spatial impact of the urban planning and agricultural land use planning system, the area division of urbanization promotion areas, and the urbanization restricted areas, all of which were in place prior to the disaster and which have guided development. On the other hand, there are areas severely damaged by tsunami in which there has been little reconstruction of housing that was completely destroyed. The authors concluded that building reconstruction in Ishinomaki City resulted in both the formation of a high-density compact city and also very low-density urban areas.
Quake-induced accident of Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011 triggered heated argument about the country’s energy policy in Japan. Although many people recognized the risk of nuclear energy use, they did not necessarily support the option of abandoning the technology for the near future. This paper focuses on how people perceive risks associated with and without nuclear power generation and how perceived risks affect their opinion. We conducted questionnaire survey targeting 18–20 year old university students, the stakeholders in the future. The survey was implemented in 2013–2014 when none of Japan’s nuclear power plants was in active use. Three quarters of the respondents answered that a future with nuclear power generation was more realistic than without it. The aspects dividing the two groups, i.e., respondents who expect a future with or without nuclear energy use were their evaluations of three themes: (1) the feasibility of renewable energy sources, (2) the impacts in the safety of developing nations’ nuclear power generation, and (3) the difficulty in gaining the acceptance of residents near the power plants. Meanwhile, both groups above were similarly positive about technological innovation, and were similarly and strongly negative about developing safety management.
This paper presents a case history of extensive damage due to large-scale slope failure during two successive earthquakes and the positive impact of countermeasures in Midorigaoka, Sendai, Japan. We detail damage during the two earthquakes, postquake countermeasures, and problems encountered during restoration. The area was damaged during the 1978 Miyagiken-oki Earthquake, after which countermeasures were deployed. The most significant damage was at Midorigaoka 1-chome, where 18 houses were demolished and two areas were abandoned. Extensive countermeasures such as a collecting well, landslide prevention piles, and retaining walls were implemented here. In Midorigaoka 3-chome, 14 houses were demolished and two areas were abandoned. Landslide prevention piles were installed and a landslide-controlling dam constructed. Failure was only superficial at Midorigaoka 4-chome, so no heavy remedial work was needed. The Midorigaoka district was hit again by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, although no damage was observed at 1-chome. Damage at 3-chome resembled that in the 1978 earthquake. Ground movement of up to 1–2 m was induced at Midorigaoka 4-chome, where approximately 100 houses collapsed and the area itself was forbidden for housing use. The degree of damage during this earthquake depended upon countermeasures adopted after the 1978 earthquake.