Mission of the Cabinet Office in Disaster Management

In Japan, the Disaster Management Bureau of the Cabinet Office has a mandate to coordinate policies and systems for all phases of disaster risk reduction, including disaster risk mitigation and preparedness, emergency response, and recovery and reconstruction. It also has responsibility for overall coordination among relevant ministries and agencies in responding to large-scale disasters. As part of the government reform of 2001, the Minister of State for Disaster Management was established in the Cabinet Office to integrate and coordinate disaster risk management policies and measures of ministries and agencies. In the Cabinet Office, which is responsible for securing cooperation and collaboration among related government organizations in wide-ranging issues, the Director-General for Disaster Management undertakes the planning of basic disaster management policies and response to large-scale disasters, as well as conducting overall coordination (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1
figure 1

Preparation of Hazard Maps (as of the end of March 2013) (Cabinet office 2015b). Hazard maps for landslides have been completed for 81% of the 1606 municipalities in Japan. Right photo shows recent landslides triggered by a typhoon (824 mm cumulative rainfall and 118.5 mm/hour peak hourly rainfall) in Izu-Oshima Island, in Tokyo. In all, 35 persons died, 4 persons were missing, and 86 houses were destroyed

The disaster management system has been continuously reviewed and revised following the lessons learned from large-scale disasters in the past. The Central Disaster Management Council, which consists of the Prime Minister as the Chair, all members of the Cabinet, heads of major public corporations and experts, develops the Basic Disaster Management Plan, establishes basic disaster management policies, and plays a role of promoting comprehensive disaster countermeasures. The Council also deliberates important issues on disaster management upon requests from the Prime Minister or the Minister of State for Disaster Management.

In extreme disaster events that cannot be handled by the prefectural governments, the Major Disaster Management Headquarters led by the Minister of State for Disaster Management or the Extreme Disaster Management Headquarters led by the Prime Minister is established, depending on the scale and impact of a disaster. The Cabinet Office is responsible for collection and dissemination of accurate information, reporting to the Prime Minister, and establishment of the emergency activities system, including the Government’s Disaster Management Headquarters, and overall cross-jurisdictional coordination among relevant ministries and agencies for disaster response (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2
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Programme of 3rd WCDRR (Cabinet office 2015a) The figure shows a list of the major meeting and sessions: Official Plenary Session, High-level partnership dialogues, Ministerial Roundtables, and Working Sessions, and their themes

The Third WCDRR and the Cabinet Office

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015–2030, the successor framework to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005–2015, was adopted at the Third WCDRR, as the guideline for disaster risk reduction in countries around the world.

Over the coming 15-year period, promoting the SFDRR will be the responsibility of the international community, and of Japan as a country that has led the world in the field of disaster risk reduction (Fig. 3).

Fig. 3
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The working session “Underlying Risk Factors” (Cabinet office 2015a). The figure lists the initial 5 working session within 33 working sessions held in WCDRR. The working session “Underlying Risk Factors (Priority 4) was co-organized by the International Consortium on Landslides (ICL), UNESCO, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) and other pertinent organizations. “ISDR-ICL SENDAI PARTNERSHIPS 2015–2024 for global promotion of understanding and reducing landslide disaster risk, Tools for Implementing and Monitoring the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals” was adopted in this session

In accordance with the Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction (SCIDRR) announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan will contribute to the mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction in the international community by effectively combining the promotion of structural and non-structural supports, as well as global cooperation and region-wide cooperation; contributing a total of four billion dollars to fields related to disaster risk reduction and providing human resource development for 40,000 people over the next four years.

Japan will also continue to promote international cooperation in DRR through measures that include multilateral cooperation through international agencies such as the UN, regional cooperation in Asia, and intergovernmental cooperation. The following sections discuss these activities.

Japan’s Role in International Disaster Management

Japan has cultivated knowledge, systems and technologies in disaster countermeasures as a result of its numerous disaster experiences. Due to its geographical and climate conditions, Japan has long been vulnerable to all types of disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, storm surges, high waves, slope failures, volcanic eruptions, debris flows, and heavy snows. Utilizing that expertise, Japan is cooperating in the efforts of disaster reduction in the world, making an important visible contribution to the international societies.

The number of disasters around the world is increasing, and disasters remain a major drawback to sustainable development. Reducing vulnerabilities to natural hazards and damage caused by them is an inevitable challenge in the international community. Almost every year, disasters hit worldwide and a great many people are killed and there is huge damage to the local and world economies. In the past 30 years, (1984–2013), more than 247 million people were killed and more than US$2.4 trillion was lost in damages. Approximately 80% of the casualties are concentrated in low- to middle income countries, making the vicious cycle of disasters and poverty another challenge.

The Government of Japan advocated the importance of “mainstreaming DRR” at the Third WCDRR. The primary meaning of “DRR mainstreaming” is making prior efforts in initiatives to mitigate damage from disasters in particular; in other words, to ensure that DRR efforts are reflected in all policies on a widespread basis. All sectors are affected once a disaster strikes, and DRR cannot be achieved unless advanced preparations are made in all types of policies. Japan has been building a disaster management system with relevant ministries and agencies, public agencies, local governments, and others under the Central Disaster Management Council, comprising all relevant Cabinet ministers (Fig. 4).

Fig. 4
figure 4

Sendai cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction (SCIDRR) (Cabinet office 2015a). Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japan, announced the Sendai Cooperation Initiative for Disaster Risk Reduction (SCIDRR) which consists of Basic Concept, Basic Policies, Concrete measures of non-material assistance, material assistance as well as global and region-wide cooperation by contributing a total of four billion dollars to fields related to disaster risk reduction and providing human resource development over the next four years

It is imperative that all stakeholders in countries around the world work to create systems to address DRR during ordinary times, before a disaster strikes. The SFDRR adopted at the Third WCDRR includes numerical DRR goals to advance this concept of mainstreaming DRR. It includes prior DRR investment and fundamental disaster prevention measures in the recovery phase after a disaster strikes, in adherence with the “Build Back Better” principle, and establishes a concept of DRR governance as the responsibility, not only of governments, but of all stakeholders, with diverse stakeholders fully performing their respective roles. Implementation of these measures in the international community will lead to the mainstreaming of DRR. To this end, Japan will continue to actively cooperate in the area of international DRR as a leader in the DRR field.