Overview of the 15th “Asia Pacific Forum, Awaji Conference Japan” Forum

Picture Symposium 2014

  • Date:
    Saturday August 2 2014
  • Location:
    Awaji Yumebutai International Conference Center
    (1 Yumebutai, Awaji-shi, Hyogo, Japan)
  • Theme:
    "20th Anniversary of Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake: To Prepare for Next Disaster― Private Sector,Kansai Area and World ―"
  • Details:
    • Yutaka Katayama
      (Vice President,Kyoto Notre Dame University)
    • ○Keynote Proposal
      1) Community Based Risk Reduction and Disaster Education
      • Rajib Shaw (Professor,Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies,Kyoto University)
        2) Good Coordination between Private Sector and Government Including Civil-Military Cooperation
        Kensuke Onishi (Chairperson,Board of Directors,Civic Force / Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer,Peace Winds Japan)
        3) Toward Goal of Establishing Another Lifeline
        Shoji Narita (Senior Officer for Liaison Section,General Affairs Department,Seven & i Holdings Co.,Ltd.)
        4) Japan’s Greatest Crisis Ever
        Hisakazu Ohishi (Director General,Policy Research Institute for Country-ology,Japan Institute of Country-ology and Engineering(JICE))
      • ○Parallel Sessions
        Group 1: Building International Cooperation for Disaster Reduction
        Moderator: Tosh Minohara
        (Professor,Graduate School of Law,Kobe University)
        Group 2: Disaster Risk Management for Private Companies
        Moderator: Shigeyuki Abe
        (Professor,Faculty of Policy Studies,Doshisha University)
        Group 3: Next Disaster and Kansai Area
        Moderator: Yoshiteru Murosaki
        (Director,Education Center for Disaster Reduction,University of Hyogo / Professor Emeritus,Kobe University / Vice President and Chief Director of Research Bureau,Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)
      • ○Plenary Session
        Coordinator: Koji Murata
        (President, Doshisha University)
      • ○Summary & Acknowledgements

        Makoto Iokibe (President, Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute / Former President, National Defence Academy)

The Forum opened with a welcome message by Awaji Conference Representative Director Satoshi Iue and subsequently keynote proposals by 4 speakers,coordinated by Yutaka Katayama,Vice president,Kyoto Notre Dame University were provided.
After that,participants broke up into 3 sessions where active discussion on selected themes ensured.
The plenary session that followed lunch began with session moderators reporting on the discussion of their respective sessions and was followed by deep discussion by all in attendance,coordinated by Koji Murata,President,Doshisha University.Finally,to close the two days of events,Awaji Conference Executive Director Makoto Iokibe
gave a summary of events and made acknowledgements.

Overview of Keynote Proposals
Community Based Risk Reduction and Disaster Education
Rajib Shaw / Professor,Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies,Kyoto University

Community based practices are proven to be effective and useful in disaster risk reduction[DRR].Apart from the individual and family,the neighbors in the community are considered as one of the first responders.
After the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in early 1995,a survey was conducted to assess high school students’perception of disaster risk reduction.From the view point of education,perception,and preparedness,the survey results showed that their keen perception to some extent,however it does not always reach to preparedness.
The school education is important to raise students’perception of disaster risk reduction.However,when it comes to promotion of actual disaster preparedness activities,community and family education plays more important roles.
Schools in Japan are now required to tackle the major challenge of enabling their students to bridge the gap between higher level of perception and relatively lower preparedness.They are also required to understand the importance of communities and community based disaster risk reduction.
Each community in a developing country faces a wide variety of its own challenges,and disaster rarely becomes a topic of discussion there.“Resilience,”which is a term commonly used in disaster management,is defined as the ability to quickly recover,rebound or bounce back.How fast one is able to recover from the impacts of a disaster depends on how much he/she or the community think of disaster risk reduction in the daily life.
Since communities in one region have characteristics vastly different from those of communities in other regions,it is impossible to apply single community based disaster reduction model to communities in all regions.Once a disaster risk reduction model is created specific to a particular region,it can continue being used for a long time.

Schools play an important role in disseminating knowledge and practices related to disaster risk reduction to their surrounding communities.In developing countries,a discussion about sanitation,garbage or environmental problems sometimes leads to a discussion about disaster risk reduction.The important thing is that disaster risk reduction practices must be locally acceptable and affordable to allow them to be implemented for a long time.


Good Coordination between Private Sector and Government Including Civil-Military Cooperation
Kensuke Onishi / Chairperson,Board of Directors,Civic Force / Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer,Peace Winds Japan

In the case of disasters,an instantaneous response is required.To that end,it is necessary to pool funds for relief operations.However,a single NGO cannot pool enough money for such operations.Accordingly,we established the Japan Platform in 2000.It offers a system by which NGOs,economic groups and the national government can work together,taking advantage of their unique characteristics and resources,in order to provide emergency aid more efficiently and promptly when natural disasters occur and refugees are produced.In the system,they cooperate and collaborate with each other as equal partners.
Regarding domestic activities,we collaborated with the Aeon Group to run shelters after the Mid-Niigata Prefecture Earthquake in 2004.At that time,we faced the problems of a lack of coordination with local governments in disaster-stricken areas and the absence of a system that could involve corporations effectively in our efforts to support disaster victims.Learning from this experience,we established the Civic Force,a cooperative body between the public and private sectors,in order to respond effectively to future major disasters in Japan.
When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011,we conducted a survey in a coastal area in Miyagi Prefecture,using a helicopter from the morning on the following day,based on a contract signed with a helicopter company in advance.We also used this helicopter to transport aid workers and goods in initial-stage relief activities.We also transported relief supplies in cooperation with a moving company.
In 2012,we established the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management(APAD),which is organized by Japan,the Philippines,South Korea,Indonesia and Sri Lanka,under the initiative of Japan.APAD aims to promote the establishment of disaster response platforms in Asia, so that economic groups,governments and NGOs can respond to disasters in cooperation with each other.

To explore the possibility of civil-military cooperation,four Japanese private organizations,including the Civic Force and Peace Winds Japan,participated in the Pacific Partnership hosted by the U.S.military.We intend to engage in relief activities that are carried out in collaboration with private organizations and military units,such as the U.S.Marine Corps,the U.S.Navy and the Japan Ground/Maritime/Air Self-Defense Forces.


Toward Goal of Establishing Another Lifeline
Shoji Narita / Senior Officer for Liaison Section,General Affairs Department,Seven & i Holdings Co.,Ltd.

We are a group of companies mainly engaged in retailing,founded originally as Ito-Yokado,a general merchandise store.We are involved in operating stores with the various companies concerned,including clients,and tenants at our stores.This is our group’s basic philosophy for business activities,including providing countermeasures
against disasters.
As a loyal company that can be trusted by local communities,we have decided that the headquarters should function as a supporter to help individual stores smoothly return to business at the time of disasters,based on the policy of early resumption of business.To that end,we formulated the Large Scale Disaster Response,in which we provide a concrete division of roles between the headquarters and stores,and build a system where the power is basically delegated to store managers at the time of disasters.
Moreover,we have signed disaster contracts with 94 local governments,because we believe that collaboration with local governments is important to promote regional contribution at the time of disasters from the perspective of corporate social responsibility.When the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred,we set up the disaster headquarters four minutes after the earthquake and collected information on the damage situation of individual stores to determine if the stores could continue their business operations.Although 129 stores in affected areas including the Kanto region suffered some damage,all 175 stores,consequently,supplied products from the following day.We made arrangements for the transportation of emergency relief goods from the day following the earthquake and supplied approximately 1.6 billion yen of both free and non-free goods to 61 organizations.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake,we have had the Risk Management Society,which comprises executives from five general insurance companies,check whether the disaster support,which we provided according to our prior planning,was effective at the time of the earthquake.

Since Nankai trough earthquakes are expected to cause damage to 46% of businesses,50% of the fuel supply and 78% of all product shipments throughout the nation,how we will supply relief goods,especially foodstuffs,at the time of disasters is our future challenge.


Japan’s Greatest Crisis Ever
Hisakazu Ohishi / Director General,Policy Research Institute for Country-ology,Japan Institute of Country-ology and Engineering(JICE)

From the perspective of how we will protect Japan through infrastructure,the greatest crisis is an excess concentration of population and industry in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area,and a lack of emergency awareness.To resolve the issue of the concentration of population and industry in Tokyo,the national government tried to transfer various capital functions to local governments.However,its attempt ultimately failed,and there are still no other measures in place to resolve the issue.
In 2013,97,000 people newly moved to the Tokyo area.In an era in which the national population is decreasing,an increase in the population of Tokyo promotes the erosion of population in other local areas.This is the biggest problem in Japan.
In the near future,massive earthquakes are likely to occur directly beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Area and areas along the Nankai trough,where the population is concentrated.Earthquakes directly hitting the Tokyo area and Nankai trough earthquakes are expected to cause economic losses of 95 trillion yen and 220 trillion yen, respectively.This may inflict as much damage on GDP as the Great Depression did in the U.S.When such massive earthquakes occur,Japan is in danger of following the same pattern as Portugal,which faded from the global stage after the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.Accordingly,we are required to establish a system which enables us to smoothly recover from disasters.
Japan was frequently hit by large-scale disasters until 1959,when it was struck by the Isewan Typhoon.Since then,Japan had not experienced a large-scale disaster for 36 years until the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake.

Accordingly,we may have forgotten that Japan is a disaster-prone country.The year 1995 was a major turning point for Japan,with the occurrence of the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake.Novelist Haruki Murakami said,“Japanese people lost confidence since that year.”It is true that everything changed after that event.In 1995,a financial crisis was declared in Japan,and the history of the country’s decline began with chaotic financial and economic policies.The combination of these factors and deflation has turned Japan into a country with no economic growth.


Overview of Discussions in Parallel Sessions
Group 1: Building International Cooperation for Disaster Reduction
Reported by Tosh Minohara(Professor,Graduate School of Law,Kobe University)

First,the discussion focused on the need to establish a kind of clearinghouse for information that organizes,coordinates and accurately communicates information among national governments,non-governmental organizations (NGOs),the military,and various other players.

Second,participants discussed the roles of social media,the Internet and mobile phones in disaster response,comparing the situations of the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake and Great East Japan Earthquake.It was pointed out that,given their significantly larger role played during the latter disaster,we need to utilize information technology more effectively in future disasters.

An issue over which participants were somewhat divided was the extent of military involvement in disaster response to implement relief and rescue operations.Some argued that the use of military assets should be a last resort solution,while others retorted that,to cope with urgent and serious needs in a major disaster,we could not wait for civilian actors.

Meanwhile,it was remarked that NGOs had views different from public opinion in Japan.The attitude of the NGO community has changed significantly since many NGOs have professional staff equipped with PhDs and extensive knowledge of security.

Lastly,participants talked about FEMA(Federal Emergency Management Agency)in the U.S.While,in the main session,some argued that it was economically unrealistic to establish an organization in Japan like FEMA,an opposing view was presented in the Group 1 discussion.Some emphasized that we still needed a Japanese version of FEMA,even on a smaller scale.Personnel transfers practiced in the national and local governments in Japan make it difficult to preserve institutional memory.A group of disaster management professionals like FEMA would be able to promptly make use of knowledge gained through past experiences in the event of a disaster.


Group 2: Disaster Risk Management for Private Companies
Reported by Shigeyuki Abe(Professor,Faculty of Policy Studies,Doshisha University)

First,some participants stressed the importance of preparedness,stating that it would be useful to prepare alternative plans in logistics and other areas.In the IT industry,preparing alternative options is common practice,such as setting up primary and secondary computer systems,backing up data in two or more ways,and being subscribed to two Internet/cell phone providers.By using these alternatives in an emergency situation,we can minimize the impact of a disaster on businesses.

Second,the discussion moved to the topic of the importance of coordination.Preparations should be made,taking into consideration coordination between the private sector and local governments,between the private sector and police,and between the private sector and Japan’s Self-Defense Forces(SDF).In the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake,while food supplies were delivered to evacuation shelters established by local governments,no measures were taken regarding physical distribution to retail stores in affected areas. Since food was not available at stores near their homes,many victims who had evacuated to a public shelter remained in the shelter,with some victims who had returned home from a shelter deciding to live in the shelter again.As a result,many displaced people are being forced to lead uncomfortable and inconvenient lives in crowded conditions.Regarding coordination with the SDF,it was pointed out that the SDF are not allowed to engage in the transportation of commercial goods.According to one participant, negotiations are underway to reach an agreement that in a situation where a disaster area is accessible only by a rough road,SDF vehicles would transport goods needed in the area using the rough road.

Third,it was remarked that since risk management has costs,awareness among the top management played an important role.The same applies to workplace harassment.According to one participant,harassment problems are observed less often in organizations where preventive measures have been taken and top executives are
actively involved in anti-harassment efforts.

For companies operating overseas,the use of local staff is an effective means of risk management.Two successful cases were reported.In the event of the Sichuan Earthquake,local employees were given full authority to deal with the emergency situation.In the wake of the floods in Thailand,by assigning local personnel to positions
responsible for supervising disaster response,companies ensured prompt,direct communication of information since there was no need for translation to/from Thai,English and Japanese.

Another important issue discussed was collaboration with the community.In cooperation with local golf clubs,the Union of Kansai Governments has already started an initiative to make golf facilities available in the event of a disaster.

It was revealed that universities have much work to do in disaster risk management,lagging behind other communities.This must be improved.


Group 3: Next Disaster and Kansai Area
Reported by Yoshiteru Murosaki(Director,Education Center for Disaster Reduction,University of Hyogo / Professor Emeritus,Kobe University / Vice President and Chief Director of Research Bureau,Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute)

First,the discussion focused on the proper understanding of disaster risks.Citizens of Kobe,and citizens of Hyogo Prefecture,who have experienced the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake,tend to think that they fully understand the dangers involved in an earthquake.Participants explored ways to change their mindsets.

Regarding the understanding of disaster risks,it is necessary to anticipate and prepare for the danger of a potential tsunami disaster on the Pacific side of the archipelago,where most of the nation’s thermal power plants and industrial complexes are located.In light of the local economies of Hyogo Prefecture and the Kansai region,we need to take a more global perspective of disaster risks,anticipating potential impacts not only on our daily lives,but also on the whole economy.

It is necessary to rethink the way disaster risks are communicated.By visualizing risks,we can make people feel that this is not someone else’s problem but our own.We also need to create more opportunities and places for citizens to think about disaster risks.

Second,the discussion moved to the topic of how to prepare for risks based on proper understanding.Some important issues were clarified.One participant presented estimated casualties in Hyogo Prefecture in a mega earthquake scenario,and explained about countermeasures.If an effective system for prompt,massive evacuation is created,the actual death toll could be drastically reduced to 400 people,from a projected 29,000 deaths.Likewise,economic loss can be reduced to approximately two-thirds of the 5.6 trillion-yen estimated.

The Nankai trough Megaquake,predicted to occur in the near future,would cause huge damage and losses on the Pacific side of the archipelago.Based on this recognition,one participant emphasized that it was important to promote the improvement of ports located along the Sea of Japan coast and the development of inland regions,to be prepared against such a mega earthquake.

Connected with this subject,participants talked about the semi-sedentary lifestyle(settling temporarily in two specific locations)and“kleingarten”(community garden).It is necessary to consider establishing other places to live when preparing for a disaster.

In this discussion on the topic of how to properly prepare for risks,a major issue was recognizing the importance of a system of cities and the Sea of Japan side of the archipelago.

Third,participants discussed what a community should be like.Since communities are aging,or in urban areas,are diminishing,disaster preparedness and reduction efforts should be incorporated into the everyday lives of people in the community.Two opinions were presented.First,we need to create a new type of community that includes not only residents but also convenience stores,gas stations,small factories,non-profit organizations(NPOs),NGOs and other intermediate organizations.Second,a community should have in place its own business continuity plan(BCP),community continuity plan(CCP),or other plan designed to ensure survival in a disaster.

The discussion focused not only on the importance of mutual help,but also on the need to develop a mechanism that encourages community members to consider how a community should survive a disaster.One participant remarked that,in addition to self-help,mutual help and public help,help based on bonds between people was necessary.We need to foster crucial social bonds and create a system for mutual help based on those bonds.

Fourth,in light of the report on the initiatives of the Union of Kansai Governments and the Hyogo Framework for Action(HFA),participants discussed,from a broad-area perspective,how Japan can contribute to Asia.It was pointed out that,of the five priorities for action in the HFA,the training of human resources and the reduction of underlying risk factors of poverty and disaster were the areas in which Asia lags behind.Regarding human resources training,an idea was brought forward that by creating a network of universities in Asia,we can establish a system for education and training.One participant stressed that Japan should offer various forms of cooperation in the areas of human resources training and poverty.

Lastly,it was remarked that the lessons and experience learned from the 1755 Lisbon earthquake could be very helpful for Japan at the present time.


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