POST GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE: LESSONS LEARNED FOR JAPANESE LOCAL GOVERNMENT1 Mizan B. F.
Bisri Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies Kobe University A. INTRODUCTION: GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE AND CONTEXT OF PAPER Japan and its people always had been a benchmark for any nations in doing disaster management practices2. However, Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (東日本大震災, Higashi Nihon Daishinsai) was so severe that it went far beyond the expectation and coping capacity of the Japanese society (Okada et al, 2011). The earthquake occurred 14:46 JST on 11 March 2011. The epicenter is located at 38.322°N and 142.369°E around 77 km off the eastern coast of Japan’s Honshu Island. According to the JMA, the magnitude of this quake was 9.0 Richter scale. The earthquake thus induced gigantic tsunami which caused massive damage in the northeast coast of Japan with maximum run-up measured 39 m (Mimura et al, 2011). The coverage of total destruction was covering mostly Tohoku and Kanto area, while the most heavily damaged prefectures are Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima. In addition, the official number of death and missing persons was over 24 thousand people and more than 350 thousand lost their houses. The chain-reaction of the mega disaster became more complicated due to nuclear threat at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants. In sum the total direct economic losses estimated 171 – 183 billion USD, while cost for recovery reaches 122 billion USD3. It was not that the event was totally unthinkable because as of February 2011, Government of Japan in their document4 outlined four very plausible major earthquakes to be occurred within this century (that will hit different local government’s area throughout Japan); i.e. Tokai-
Term paper prepared for Local Government Course – GSICS, Kobe University As mentioned by World Bank representative at International Recovery Forum, 20 January 2012, Kobe City. Author was attending the forum. 3 Pagano, M (2011), http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/japan-looks-for-market-stability-after-quake-2240323.html 4 Disaster Management in Japan, Cabinet Office – Government of Japan, 2011 p. 25 – 30.
Tonankai Earthquake that will highly affecting Kansai and Shikoku area, Chubu – Kinki Earthquake, Tokyo Inland Earthquake, and also the Vicinity of the Japan and Chishima Trenches in which unfortunately happened the first last year in the form of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The central government through Central Government Disaster Management Council did prepared for this threats, however the local government, prefectural and municipality level, at each respective area will always be the at the frontline to manage this risk within decentralized system. Therefore, the main question raised in this paper is simple, what can be improved by Local Governments in Japan, by taking lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake? The preceding question will be linked specifically to the discourse of regionalization within Japanese local government. Mainly the discourse is about to or not to abolished prefecture system and replaces it with regional autonomous body covering wider area, not only in the sense of changing the size of local government bodies, but also to bring possibility to have influence in relationship between central and local government (Yokomichi, 2008). It is indeed that the debate stretched in a long time-span (from pre-war period until present times), covering principal issues such as region as administrative body or autonomous body, choices between two or three tiers system, eight plausible type of regional systems, and so on. However, as Yokomichi (2008:21) noted, various developmental issue can be brought about to be added within the discourse. In this sense, Author would like to argue that disaster plausibly one of the reasons to value that the “region” system, to some extent, might be needed. The organization of this paper will be as follows, the first part is introduction, about the disaster and context to the paper. The second part will provide briefly look at the institutional setting of disaster management system in Japan. It will be followed by third part which contains lessons learned, mostly weakness captured due to the earthquake, and critics given from inside Japan as well as international community. Finally, the fourth part will provide recommendations as to what extent region system can be beneficial, in which also includes views from abroad. 2
B. INSTITUTIONAL SETTING OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT IN JAPAN Disaster management in Japan designates municipality governments and prefectures as the lead agencies for preparedness, mitigation, response, relief and recovery. Local governments are the first responders, while the central government supports response resources. In Japan, the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act mandated local governments to enact their own Local Disaster Management Plan, based on Basic Disaster Management Plan by central government; that includes mitigation, emergency response, relief, and recovery (Cabinet Office, 2011:11). As a base for the plan, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism provides local governments with hazard maps, e.g. tsunami inundation projections. In addition, they also assist local governments in hazards determination, guidance on disaster scenarios, and produced detailed tsunami inundation zone maps. Therefore, local governments are responsible for mitigation; i.e. design and construction of tsunami sea walls, preparedness activities such as local public education, evacuation planning, and selection of evacuation areas (Chang, 2011). At the time of disaster, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) monitors Japan’s seismic network, determines tsunami potential for earthquakes, and issues warnings thus estimates of tsunami wave heights. As response, it is the responsibility of local governments to issue evacuation orders and to initiate response and relief efforts. However, the national and local governments thus designed to be quickly collect and share disaster and damage information, and secure communications so that they can carry out effective emergency activities. Based on such information, local governments set up a disaster management headquarters and related organizations establish their own operations mechanism. The national government collects disaster information hourly each day. By the time a largescale disaster strikes, an emergency team composed of related ministries and agencies gathers immediately at the Crisis Management Center located at Prime Minister's Office to analyze the disaster situation. It thus followed by inter-ministerial meetings at the ministerial level to decide 3
basic response policies. According to the damage, government may establish a Headquarters for Major Disaster Management (headed by the Minister of State for Disaster Management) or a Headquarters for Extreme Disaster Management (headed by the Prime Minister). In addition, a government investigation team may be dispatched, or an onsite response headquarters may be established. In the case of large-scale disasters that exceed the response capabilities of the affected local government, various wide-area support systems thus introduced. Such arrangement was as if it did not institutionalized many practice of security or disaster agreement among local governments in Japan, the bousai kyotei, or taking innovative opportunity from the discourse of regionalization within local government. C. LESSONS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT FROM GREAT EAST JAPAN EARTHQUAKE Both experiences during emergency response and one year recovery of the earthquake address lessons on how we should revisited the concept of decentralization and regionalization of local governments in Japan, and to some extent central – local relations, suggesting institutional setting above did not worked smoothly. Firstly, in this disaster, the affected areas were so extensive that clusters of local governments at city and prefecture levels were paralyzed (Okada et al, 2011:40). By many stories where the tsunami killed community leaders, destroyed government buildings, emergency centers, hospitals, and other facilities and resources, it was extremely difficult for local jurisdictions to respond quickly and effectively (Chang, 2011).The case in Otsuchi Town even brought about story where its Mayor and staff at local government office became casualties, they were conflicted between necessity to evacuate as their own value of “tsunami tendenko” and sense of responsibility without having confidence that there will be a higher level governance to count on (Mimura et al, 2011). In addition,
experience from Minamisanriku Town also showed incapability where the disaster management office completely washed out and its staff became victim, trying to inform citizen to evacuate5. Weaknesses of coordination among central – local government and towards other actors also detected during the early recovery so far. One of the harshest critics even draw the line back towards the origin of social relation between Tohoku and Kanto area (Funabishi:2011, Oguma: 2011), both arguing that the historical origin will impede recovery process and probably will not be as effective as after the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake. In addition public confidence continued shrinking by seeing plenty of mistrust frustration expressed by prefectural and municipalities’ governments of the Tohoku area towards central government, (Bray in Mark, 2011). Even Governor of Fukushima criticized openly, stating that their response too slow as well as not-transparent in communication6. Another important lesson is related to the ability of local governments of affected area with multiple actors during emergency response of major disaster. At that time, local government at least has to coordinate with around 19 foreign governments7. However, one of the feedbacks was that poor coordination resulted in delays to the U.S. military's disaster response team for two days as a result of needless negotiations with local authorities8. In addition, many governments felt unimpressed and ended up their operation within 1 -2 weeks9. D. RECOMMENDATIONS: HOW THE LESSONS FITS IN THE REGION SYSTEM The answer for lessons addressed above; i.e. related to crisis of leadership at local government resulted by the direct impact of mega disaster, weak coordination between central – local government, and additional incapability at local level, might be found amidst the discourse of the argument of “region” system. As Imai (2011) noted, preparing system to face mega-
Conveyed by Mayor of Minamisanriku Town, Mr. Sato, at International Recovery Forum, 20 January 2012, in Kobe City. Author was attending the forum. 6 http://edition.cnn.com/2012/02/26/world/asia/rebuilding-japan-overview/index.html?iref=allsearch, http://voices.yahoo.com/fukushimagov-sato-criticizes-japanese-government-8181111.html 7 Map of related government, http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/incidents/pdfs/map_operations.pdf 8 http://www.thefreelibrary.com/OPINION:%20Fukushima%20crisis%20shows%20weakness%20in%20Japanese%20crisis...-a0269928562 9 The Japan Times Special Report on Great East Japan Earthquake
disaster like last year is too much for city government, it required support from central government. But probably, not necessarily central government, due to the fact that actually the regionalization of the hazard itself already recognized; this is where the region approach fits in. Approach for regionalization to help local government better prepare for any scale of disaster at least can be seen in the United States. The FEMA10 of U.S. divided the country into 10 regional operations, with each region composed at least three states. It has several principal functions as follows: 1) liaison between the regional administrators and headquarters leadership, 2) advising the headquarters leadership on matters affecting or impacting the regions, and 3) providing guidance to regional administrators on policy, programs, operations, and administrative matters. As an example in terms of leadership, if a disaster is beyond the resources of a state government, that authority may request a major disaster declaration by the President through the regional office. The head was appointed directly by President and have full authority in terms of disaster management. Indeed, there are differences in terms of central-local government relation between The U.S and Japan. However, more focus should be look at its intention to have hazard-base regionalization countermeasure planning and flexibility as well as authority to act upon to reduce coordination weakness. Among the four major predicted earthquakes in Japan, as it argued earlier, last year earthquake can be roughly said as the one with least countermeasure plan preparation11. In addition, there was no initiative from local governments in Tohoku area to develop joint-disaster management plan, aside of the bousai kyotei agreement among municipalities and prefecture in Tohoku with those outside12. Different attempt has been tried by prefectural governments in Kansai Region in responding the threat of Tokai-Tonankai Earthquake to complement Countermeasure Plan developed by
Federal Emergency Management Agency – under The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, www.fema.gov If get compared to the existence of Countermeasure Plan to Tokai-Tonankai Earthquake, Tokyo Inland Earthquake, and Chubu – Kinki Earthquake. 12 For example is between Hyogo and Miyagi Prefecture, as being addressed by Governor of Hyogo at IRP Forum, 20 January 2012.
central government. The so called Kansai Union13 developed Kansai Disaster Management Plan and already tried to implement through joint-medical services such as doctor helicopter. Their coordination even proved at last year earthquake when Mayor Minamisanriku praised them as the most reliable partner14. Adjustment indeed still is needed within the “region” system discourse. Clarity in terms leadership among prefectures and respective to central government is still need to be decided beforehand. However, such steps strongly suggested to be followed by local governments at Chubu and Minamikanto area towards their respective risk. In this sense, “region” system perhaps needs to find a “balance”, neither as central government or another local government tier, but more as joint-secretariat to tackle trans-boundary problem. E. REFERENCES Cabinet Office – Government of Japan, 2011, Disaster Management in Japan, Tokyo: Director General for Disaster Management, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. Chang, S. and colleagues, 2011, The March 11, 2011, Great East Japan (Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami: Societal Dimensions, EERI Special Earthquake Report – August 2011, Available online: http://www.eqclearinghouse.org/2011-03-11sendai/files/2011/03/Japan-SocSci-Rpt-hirez-rev.pdf. Funabishi, Y., 2011, Changing the Structure of Our Nation with Eyes toward Human Security, Japan Echoweb, No. 6 June – July 2011. Imai, T., 2011, Local Government’s Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, The Great East Japan Earthquake and Local Government’s ICT, ISN Public Seminar (November 24, 2011), Available online: http://www.city.sendai.jp/soumu/jyo-seisaku/isn/pdfe/07_sendai_script.pdf. Mark, C., 2011, Domestic and Regional Politics of Japan, Post 3/11, Department of Modern History, Politics, and International Relations – Macquaire Univeristy, NSW, Australia, Available online: http://law.anu.edu.au/COAST/events/APSA/papers/180.pdf. Mimura N., K. Yasuhara, S. Kawagoe, H. Yokoki, S. Kazama, 2011, Damage from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami – A Quick Report, Journal of Mitigation and Adaptation Strategy for Global Change (2011) 16: 803 – 818. Oguma Eiji, 2011, The Hidden Face of Disaster: 3.11, the Historical Structure and Future of Japan’s Northeast, The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 31 No 6. Okada, N., Tao Y., Yoshio, K., Peijun, S., Hirokazu, T., 2011, The 2011 Eastern Japan Great Earthquake Disaster: Overview and Comments, International Journal Disaster Risk Science 2(1): 34 – 42. Yokomichi, K., 2008, the Debate on the Introduction of a Regional System in Japan, Tokyo: Institute for Comparative Studies in Local Governance (COSLOG) – National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS).
This union consists of Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Wakayama, Shiga, Tokushima, and Tottori Prefecture. This based on statement of Mr. Sato, Mayor of Minamisanriku Town, at IRP Forum, 20 January 2012.