Saving Onagawa: Sociotechnical Resilience in the 3/11 Disaster

  • Makoto TakahashiEmail author
  • Masaharu Kitamura


On March 11, 2011, the world was shocked by the nuclear disaster unfolding at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station caused by the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami. Not many people are aware that another nuclear power station was struck by the tsunami, but was able to avert nuclear meltdown unlike Fukushima Daiichi. Using the viewpoint of resilience, this chapter explains how Onagawa nuclear power station managed to reduce the severity of impact caused by the natural disaster. The basic concept in resilience engineering dictates that the mechanism underlying failure and success is the same. Thus, more attention is given to why things go well. While it is easy to point out flaws in measures taken after the accident, this chapter emphasizes positive contributions of human actions to mitigating accidents as the lesson to prevent future disaster. In so doing, it is necessary to distinguish the inherent resilience behaviors from fortunate factors. Situated on what transpired at Onagawa, this chapter sheds light on the key factors that reduced the disaster impact on Onagawa. We characterize these factors as the traits of sociotechnical resilience.


3/11 disaster Good practice Resilience engineering Nuclear power plant Onagawa 


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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tohoku UniversitySendaiJapan
  2. 2.Research Institute for Technology Management Strategy (TeMS)SendaiJapan

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