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How to transmit disaster information effectively: A linguistic perspective on Japan’s Tsunami Warnings and Evacuation Instructions

Abstract

When the disastrous tsunamis hit East Japan on 11 March 2011, the hi-tech information transmission system that is the pride of Japan was unable to send out the Tsunami Warnings effectively; many lives were lost as a result. Subsequently, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) set up a committee of experts to improve the overall system. Last year as a result of their meetings, a report on The Improvement of the Information Text for the Tsunami Warnings was announced. The changes are, however, problematic from the linguistics perspective as the committee did not include any experts in the field. This study examines a range of recordings of the Tsunami Warnings and the Evacuation Instructionsi given for the East Japan tsunami disaster from the perspective of linguistics, especially pragmatics, whose main objective is to discover how recipients interpret verbal messages. The aim of this article is to propose further improvement to the transmission system of Tsunami Warnings and Evacuation Instructions. This study also emphasizes the necessity and importance of reexamining the overall disaster information transmission issue in Japan, from the linguistics perspective.

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Correspondence to Kyoko Arai.

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Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Arai, K. How to transmit disaster information effectively: A linguistic perspective on Japan’s Tsunami Warnings and Evacuation Instructions. Int J Disaster Risk Sci 4, 150–158 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13753-013-0016-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13753-013-0016-8

Keywords

  • communication effectiveness
  • disaster information
  • Evacuation Instructions
  • Japan
  • Tsunami Warnings