March 12-16, 2018, Tokyo, Sendai, Kobe, Japan- Every year, earthquakes push more than 4 million people on average into extreme poverty. To take on this challenge, Japan’s approach of sustained investment in quality infrastructure and buildings, coupled with the preparedness of local authorities and residents, offers World Bank client countries new ideas and solutions to strengthen their own seismic resilience.
The World Bank’s Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) and Tokyo Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Hub jointly organized a 5-day Technical Deep Dive (TDD) on Seismic Risk and Resilience with the Government of Japan to support World Bank clients and teams to:
Practitioners and decisionmakers from Bangladesh, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nepal, Peru, and the Philippines – which together with Japan see an average of 1.2 million people exposed to earthquakes every year – joined the TDD to share knowledge and expertise on seismic risk identification, monitoring and alert systems, preparedness, and risk reduction in infrastucture and the built environment.
The TDD included interactive sessions with leading experts, peer-peer learning, and site visits in Sendai and Kobe - two Japanese cities that have experienced devastating damage from earthquakes and tsunamis.
On March 11, Japan marked the 7th Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan, which killed over 19,000 people. Despite their tremendous impacts on society, such earthquakes and tsunamis occur infrequently. This poses three inter-related challenges for countries trying to take on their seismic risk:
(i) a rigorous and up-to-date scientific understanding of the country’s seismic risk;
(ii) a comprehensive legal and institutional framework; and,
(iii) systematically integrating lessons learned from previous disasters into their DRM planning and investment, as well as the country’s culture of preparedness.
This helps Japan ensure that it will not forget and not put its people or its economy at undue risk.
The TDD connected teams with Japan’s leading DRM institutions, including the Cabinet Office; Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT); Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA); Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA); Sendai City; Kobe City; International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) (Tohoku University); and the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Resilience (NIED).
Sendai City demonstrated the structural and non-structural measures the City has taken to prepare for earthquakes and tsunamis, including enhancing the disaster resilience of its infrastructure asset management. City officials highlighted the importance of strengthening community resilience, Mr. Tomoki Suzuki, Director of the Disaster Prevention Planning Section, Crisis Management Department, City of Sendai, noted that, "Self-help and cooperation are critical, as there is a limit to administration responses even though we try our best. Disaster prevention awareness of residents and regional cooperation are important." Among other initiatives, they introduced "Community Disaster Prevention Leaders," who direct information dissemination, evacuation guidance, and shelter management at the time of disaster.
Kobe City, which was hit by the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in January 1995, saw 120,000 buildings destroyed or damaged, and more than 4,500 people lose their lives - over 70 percent of whom died due to building collapse. In Kobe, city officials showed TDD participants how the City enhanced the resilience of the building stock through (i) increasing local capacity to enforce building codes and (ii) a comprehensive retrofitting program – promoted through local awareness raising and a nation-wide retrofit subsidy program.