Determinants of the Changes of Residence and Life Reconstruction among the 1995 Kobe Earthquake Victims


Shigeo TATSUKI & Haruo HAYASHI (1999).

A random sample mail survey was conducted on 3,300 earthquake victims who experienced severe life difficulties due to the 1995 Kobe earthquake. The sample consisted of two groups. One group consisted of those who stayed within Hyogo prefecture: 2,500 In-Hyogo residents were sampled from 250 randomly selected points with a seismic intensity of 7 and with a more than two month cut-off from the city gas supply. The other group consisted of those who left Hyogo prefecture: 800 Out-of-Hyogo residents were randomly selected from the subscribers' list for a Hyogo Government newsletter aimed for Out-of-Hyogo residing earthquake victims.

993 (683 In-Hyogo and 313 Out-of-Hyogo) questionnaires were returned and responses from 623 In-Hyogo (25.7%) and 292 Out-of-Hyogo residents (37.1%) were valid. Based on findings from preceding ethnographic research, the questionnaire was designed to inquire about residence location, source of help, family cohesion and adaptability at the 10th, 100th, and 1000th hour as well as at the six months after the onset of the earthquake. These time points were found to correspond with critical boundaries, which segmented phases of the disaster victims' behavior.

These were some of the major findings. 1) Patterns of residence location change were drastically different between those with severe house damage and with light damage. About 80% of those who lost houses evacuated to shelters at the 10th hour, and about the same number of victims continued to stay at the evacuation shelters at the 100th hour, and at temporary dwellings at the 1000th hour as well as at the 6th month after the earthquake. In comparison, only 24 % of those whose houses were lightly damaged evacuated at the 10th and 100th hour, but the number declined to 14% at the 1000th hour and it declined further to 10 % at 6 months after the earthquake. A pattern of residence change among In-Hyogo residents resembled that of those with light house damage, while the patterns of Out-of-Hyogo residents were quite similar to those with heavy house damage.

2) Bipolar decisions, namely job-based and housing-based, dictated whether one should stay or leave Hyogo prefecture. Elderly inner-city dwelling couples who lost houses were pushed out of Hyogo prefecture by housing based decisions. They were characterized by those who used to occupy and lost their own wooden tenement houses on leased land following the earthquake or the consequent fire. People in their 20's with less than 3 years seniority lost employment and were pulled out of Hyogo prefecture. In comparison, those who kept their jobs and those in their 30's, 40's and 50's with three to five family members tended to stay in Hyogo prefecture. Their decision to stay seemed to be job based. Finally, those who did not experience any severe house damage also stayed. This decision to stay seemed to be housing-based.

3) Asking kith and kin for temporary dwelling peaked at the 100th hour period, but it declined hereafter. Meanwhile, housing help from the workplace became more prevalent among In-Hyogo residents at the 1,000th hour point. On the other hand, the most prevalent types of dwelling for Out-of-Hyogo residents after the 1,000th hour were temporary rental housing which was financed at the evacuee's own expense. It should be noted that a strikingly small proportion of victims (1.3 % In- and 2.1 % of Out-of-Hyogo residents) opted for publicly supplied temporary housing units 6 months after the earthquake.

4) A need for information regarding livability and house repair options peaked at the first one week after the earthquake and nearly half of the victims made up their minds with regard to dwelling options within one month after the earthquake. Furthermore, those whose houses received seemingly light damage showed the highest need for information regarding livability and house repair options during the first week after the earthquake.

5) Those whose family cohesion level increased to a high level at the 100th hour but did not maintain such a high cohesion level at the 1000th hour tend to show better adjustment at present. Similarly, the families that showed a clear leadership structure at the 100th hour but later increased the level of flexibility six months after the earthquake tended to be better adjusted than other families.

6) Reflection on pre- to post-earthquake changes in civic-mindedness revealed that self-governance and a solidarity orientation increased while conformity/obedience to preexisting morality decreased. Furthermore, those who are high on the self-governance and solidarity formation orientation scale tended to be better-adjusted four years after the earthquake than those who were low.

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Table of Content

Determinants of the Changes of Residence and Life Reconstruction among the 1995 Kobe Earthquake Victims

1. Purpose

2. Research Overview

3. Classification of Respondents Characteristics & Dimensions of Residence Decisions

4-1. Changes in Residence (All N=915)

4-2. Changes in Residence among Red, Yellow & Green Tagged Victims

4-3.Changes in Residence among In-Pref. Residing Victims (N=623)

4-4.Changes in Residence among Out-of-Pref. Residing Victims (N=292)

5.Decisions Regarding Dwelling

6-1.The Role of Family Cohesion in Stress Reduction & Recovery

6-2.The Role of Family Adaptability in Stress Reduction & Recovery

7.Interrelationship of Disaster, Civic-mindedness, & Recovery

Author :Shigeo Tatsuki


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Department of Social Work, School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University