Natural Hazards

, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 281–292 | Cite as

Japan’s Jishu-bosai-soshiki community activities: analysis of its role in participatory community disaster risk management

  • Robert Bajek
  • Yoko Matsuda
  • Norio Okada
Original Paper


Jishu-bosai-soshiki, or Jishubo for short, with a literal meaning of “autonomous organization for disaster reduction”, is a neighborhood association for disaster preparedness and rescue activity. In this paper, the role of Jishubo in the context of participatory disaster management in Japan is discussed. Although the formation of Jishubo is not legally mandated, local governments exercise a great deal of persuasion on the inhabitants of their community to organize and participate in disaster management activities. Therefore, participants in Jishubo activities tend to be guided and mobilized with a soft touch by local governments rather than being truly self-motivated, with the objective of reducing disaster risks in their residential areas. There have been several studies on community participatory management conducted in a number of countries, including New Zealand, the USA and Europe, which will serve as a reference in our study. However interesting, the cultural comparison of the “Western” and “Japanese” approaches to community disaster management, is beyond the scope of this paper, the aim of which is to determine a case of community disaster management in Japan. This paper addresses the background behind the development of Jishubo and discusses the uniqueness and limits of this softly mobilized participatory movement in Japan. Based on a case study in Kishiwada City, Osaka, the motivations driving people to participate in disaster management activities organized for Jishubo members is examined. In conclusion, we derive some policy implications and suggest possible approaches for improving the effectiveness of Jishubo and increasing the motivation of people to participate. We also propose that the roles of administrative bodies in Japan, such as non-profit organizations, be better incorporated into community’s participatory disaster reduction activities.


Community-based disaster reduction Japan Jishu-bosai-soshiki Participation Reasons of attendance Scope of deliberation Sense of involvement 



Fire and Disaster Management Agency


Non-profit organization




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of EngineeringKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Disaster Reduction Systems, Disaster Prevention Research InstituteKyoto UniversityGokasho Uji, KyotoJapan

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