4th Anniversary of the Japan 2011 Tsunami and Future Disaster Risk Reduction
By admin March 13, 2015

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March 11, 2015 marked the 4th anniversary of the Japan 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster. The tsunami was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and at least 15,891 people lost their lives, according to Japan’s National Police Agency. Some 230,000 people are still unable to return to their hometowns after the disaster. The earthquake also caused a severe nuclear disaster. It brought the Fukushima nuclear plant into the center of attention, questioning the entire Japanese nuclear power industry. After the disaster, all of Japan’s nuclear reactors were switched off. Even though several reactors are allowed to be recommence use now, the public’s concern over environmental and health issues adds uncertainty to the actual restart date. As a result, Japan will still face the pressures of importing fossil fuels in a stagnating economy.

The loss caused by a natural disaster is enormous. On March 4th 2015, the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction was launched at the UN headquarters. According to the report, by 2050, the average annual losses associated with tropical cyclone winds alone are estimated to increase by as much as $1.4 billion USD. Since 2005, the huge financial costs coming from repairing damaged commercial and residential buildings worldwide has an average total of $314 billion each year, 85 percent of which coming from the private sector. However, the report projects that an annual investment of $6 billion in disaster risk management strategies would reduce the potential economic losses by $360 billion, which is about a 20 percent reduction. Consequently, private sector is motivated to participate more actively in the global disaster risk deduction, in order to seek opportunities and prevent possible future losses at the same time.

One piece of evidence of the private sector’s increased investment into disaster risk reduction is noted by their participation in the upcoming Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Sendai City, one of the tsunami stricken areas in northern Japan, where there will be a greater portion of participants from the private sector compared to the same kind of conference held a decade ago. This conference aims to provide clear guidance to tackle the underlying drivers of risk posed by natural disasters.

Margareta Wahlstrom, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for disaster risk reduction, noted, “Despite many successes and greatly improved performance in disaster management, it is sobering to note that 700,000 people have died in disaster events over the last ten years,” and,“It is of great concern that economic losses in major reported disaster events come to $1.4 trillion.” These figures, which keep increasing yearly, are urging the international community to take action now and seek new ways to collaborate in disaster risk reduction.

Even though the past disaster risk reduction framework, the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), adopted at the previous meeting in Kobe in 2005 has helped us achieve some successes, the problems of improper land use, poorly implemented building codes, environmental degradation, poverty, climate change, and weak governance institutions still exist. Along with this, besides typical natural disasters, it is said that the new framework will also target health and health hazards that have affected the world recent years such as SARS (Severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

We believe that the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will achieve a great success and contribute to disaster risk reduction globally.


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