Connect with us

Has Japan learned anything from 2011 disaster?

Avatar

Published

on

It has been five years since that day when the Pacific Ocean roared forth to demolish the quiet coastal communities of Tohoku and the lives within them. But I am still haunted by the memory of Satoshi Watanabe.

It was about a month after the tsunami when I found him, a 42-year-old man in sweatpants walking silently through the wasteland of mud and shattered debris that had once been the town of Otsuchi in Iwate. He was turning over broken pieces of concrete and splintered beams as if searching for something. And indeed he was, the body of his 2-month-old daughter, Mikoto.

Watanabe was standing near the same spot where he had last seen her and the rest of his family — his wife, Shiho, 32, and two other daughters, aged 5 and 6 — together in their living room on the afternoon of March 11, just moments before the wall of water crashed down upon their home. Only he survived. He found the rest of his family a week later, lying in a makeshift morgue. I don’t know if he ever recovered Mikoto.

I wish we could tell Watanabe and the thousands of others like him, who bore such staggering losses with admirable fortitude and endurance, that we have learned the hard-earned lessons from the earthquake and tsunami, so that future families will not have to suffer the same pain.

But on the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that killed almost 19,000 people, and caused history’s second-worst nuclear accident, we are letting that chance to improve slip away.

Japan, which tried so earnestly to learn from its failures during the 1995 Kobe earthquake, appears to be turning a blind eye to the lessons of this disaster. It is restoring its nuclear plants without fully understanding the failures at Fukushima Daiichi.

It is re-erecting homes at the same spots swept away by the towering waves unleashed by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake. And it is rebuilding its seawalls: a trillion yen’s worth of new concrete fortifications, in some places five stories tall, along some 400 kilometers of Japan’s northeastern coast.

If the tsunami taught us one thing, it was that even the grandest walls could not match the force of nature. Kamaishi’s was nearly 2 km long, and tall enough to win entry in the Guinness World Records. Yet, it could not protect that city. And now Japan’s taxpayers are spending 60 billion yen to build a new one.

Going back to the pre-disaster status quo is not a solution

It simply dooms us to repeat the past. But there are new lessons to be learned in the experiences of Tohoku, ones that point us away from concrete and toward smarter, softer solutions. One is the value of knowledge, like the school children who knew to evacuate to higher ground.

Another is communal bonds, which led the people of Tohoku to save each other when the waves struck, and support each other in the difficult months and years that followed.

This gave Tohoku a resilience that came “not from walls or money, but how well people get along,” says Daniel Aldrich, a public policy expert at Northeastern University who is studying the disaster.

In Otsuchi, the town’s seawall created a fatal complacency. Watanabe said it allowed him to forget about the ocean, less than a kilometer from his home. “Our seawall didn’t work,” Watanabe told me that cold day amid the ruins. “And now without it, I can now see how close the sea is. It’s frighteningly close.”

(Martin Fackler served as Tokyo bureau chief of The New York Times from February 2009 to July 2015)

==Kyodo


Source link

Comments

National

Thailand to further ease COVID-19 restrictions

The Cabinet approved to ease the level of control over the country under the COVID-19 situation including relaxing businesses and activities in 4 areas.

National News Bureau of Thailand

Published

on

The Cabinet approved to ease the level of control over the country under the COVID-19 situation including relaxing businesses and activities in 4 areas.

(more…)
Continue Reading

Economics

BoI plans more efforts to promote BCG economy

National News Bureau of Thailand

Published

on

logomain

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Board of Investment (BoI) is working with related agencies to rev up promotion of the bio-, circular and green (BCG) economy to help drive growth over the next 5 years.

BoI Secretary-General Duangjai Asawachintachit said the BoI is looking into more business categories for high technology as part of efforts to promote the BCG economy.

She said the government is focused on developing the bio-economy as Thailand has more than 30 million people working in the farm sector, yet most of them remain in poverty.

Source link

Continue Reading

Asean

ASEAN, Canada, UN Women launch 5-year programme to advance Women, Peace and Security Agenda

Asean News

Published

on

Joint Press Release ASEAN, Canada, UN Women jointly launch 5-year programme to advance Women, Peace and Security Agenda
Jakarta/Ottawa/New York, 24 February 2021 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Canada and UN Women jointly launched today a five-year programme to expand and strengthen women’s leadership and participation in conflict prevention, resolution and recovery in South-East Asia.

The CAD 8.5 million (US $6.36 million) programme, “Empowering women for sustainable peace: preventing violence and promoting social cohesion in ASEAN”, is funded by Global Affairs Canada to support ASEAN and the implementation of the ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action 2021-2025, with the support of UN Women as a lead UN partner.

“Canada is proud to launch this flagship initiative that uses the women, peace and security approach to promote inclusive and sustainable peace and security in the region, while addressing the systemic gender inequality,” said Diedrah Kelly, Canada’s Ambassador to ASEAN.

ASEAN has made important strides to advance women, peace and security agenda, including the adoption of the first ‘Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN’ in 2017, the launch of the ASEAN Women’s Peace Registry in 2018, and convening the first ASEAN Symposium on Women, Peace and Security in 2019 and the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Strengthening Women’s role for Sustainable Peace and Security in 2020.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi said, “ASEAN is working concertedly to advance women, peace and security agenda across the three ASEAN Community Pillars as part of our commitment to promote gender equality and the roles of women in the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.”

The COVID-19 impact has increased the risks for women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected contexts and this challenges us to re-examine threats to human security. “The pandemic highlights the important linkage between peace, humanitarian and development and the critical need for women’s leadership and participation to ensure effective and comprehensive response, from policy decision-making to peace building and pandemic response,” said Jamshed Kazi, UN Women Representative and Liaison to ASEAN.

The new programme reflects the commitment of ASEAN and Canada to promote gender equality and to respond to an increasingly widespread calls across the globe for women to be empowered to lead and participate in peace and development.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

For more information, please contact:
Montira Narkvichien
Regional Communications Specialist
UN Women Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +66 2 288 1579 | Mobile: +66 81 6688900 | Email: [email protected]

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest

Most Viewed

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 13,634 other subscribers

Trending