Pre-reconstruction Plans for Urban Areas in Japan
Since ancient times, Japan’s urban areas have suffered from a variety of natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and floods. This can be attributed to the specific geographic and cultural conditions of the country, in particular the frequency of earthquakes combined with the large number and density of wooden houses. Particularly since the Edo period (1600–1867), when cities expanded due to various political and economic forces, there have been a number of disasters, demonstrating the vulnerability associated with high urban densities. Such events include the Great Fire of Meireki of 1657, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, and the Great Tokyo Air Raid of 1945. In these cases conflagrations caused enormous damage to urban areas, each claiming around 100,000 victims. The Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that occurred in 1995 and the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 also caused widespread damage to entire urban areas through the collapse of buildings, the tsunami that followed and the nuclear incident at Fukushima. In response to such large-scale disasters that can destroy cities, efforts have been made to actively draft pre-reconstruction plans in order to facilitate speedy urban reconstruction. While the aims of these pre-reconstruction plans may be diverse, the primary focus is on: (i) imagining the circumstances of reconstruction, (ii) making projections on the systems and plans that will be required for reconstruction, and (iii) fostering awareness of the need for preventative measures when considering reconstruction, while providing details about such.
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