Japan-US Workshop on Urban Earthquake Hazard Reduction

The Resolution (Working Group 5: Victim Support and NGO Activities)(Click here to start slide show)

The morning sessions focused on creative policies and programs that were created in response to recent disasters. The first set of papers included governmental response in both the Northridge and Hanshi earthquakes. CERT (in Los Angeles) showed the ways in which voluntary responders can be trained to extend the effectiveness of hazard responders in the immediate emergency period. The Kobe and Hyogo government responses emphasized the rebuilding of community ties and social structure along with the physical redevelopment. Third, we heard about a third party advocacy group (FAIR) that functioned as an interface between the government and disaster victims. We hope that these new measures and policy innovations will be utilized in the US, just as the CERT is being transferred to Japan: the concept of CERT is rather like the notion of QC (quality control) circles. QC circles were invented in the US, but were learned by US corporations in emulating the Japanese; similarly, CERT was invented in Japan but the Japanese are learning its use from the United States. In the Kobe earthquake, many innovative policies were invented, particularly linking the victims, government and NGOs. These new policy measures, we hope, will be utilized in both Japan and the United States.

The afternoon session focussed on the role of scientists as opposed to emergency managers in the area of disaster reduction. These sessions provided several examples of analytical tools that can be used to understand the broad implications of individual and collective disaster process. For example, one issue is the question of the implications of ethnographic research for understanding mitigation behavior and disaster response. Another example is the concept of phase of the disaster response and behavior: Social science research can identify transition points in the post-disaster period that can be used to empower the on-site practitioners.

The last set of papers suggested that local diversity (intra-cultural variability) should be attended to as well as international differences in planning for and implementing disaster measures. Historians and ethnographers can help in the study of these issues.

The presentations addressed the importance of a seamless connection and communication between disaster victims, emergency managers and the scientists who can facilitate and ensure the effectiveness of this communication. The scientists can provide the tools and concepts to respond to and understand disasters.

Shigeo Tatsuki
Seiichi Sakurai
Richard Eisner
Risa Palm


All Rights Reserved. COPYRIGHT(C) 1998-99, Shigeo TATSUKI

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