Skip to main content

Preventing International Assistance becoming a Threat to Human Security: Japan’s Experience in the 1995 Kobe Earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake

  • 345 Accesses

Part of the Disaster Risk Reduction book series (DRR)

Abstract

The Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) in 2011 was worth noting not only because of the disaster’s massive scale but also because Japan received international assistance even as it is recognized as one of the countries most prepared to handle disasters. Due to globalization, more and more countries and organizations give assistance across state borders, with recipients not limited to only developing countries. Developed countries such as Japan, the United States, and New Zealand have also received assistance in recent years. While assistance itself is based on the goodwill of the international community, past examples have shown that receiving too much or unnecessary assistance can become a further burden to the affected countries, which can threaten human security. All countries now have to consider international assistance as part of their disaster response plan; relaying timely information from the affected country is the key to successful management of foreign assistance. This chapter looks at how the Japanese government managed the international assistance it received during the GEJE, focusing on information management and reception of international search and rescue teams. It also discusses how the government utilized the lessons learned from the 1995 Kobe earthquake. The government, getting support from the United Nations, successfully released timely information in English to the world. However, there were difficulties in coordinating activities to meet the needs of the affected areas. In requesting for foreign assistance, the government had to consider diplomacy and the feelings of families who lost their loved ones.

Keywords

  • 2011 great east japan earthquake
  • 1995 kobe earthquake
  • UNDAC
  • Search and rescue teams
  • Disaster information management

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-8852-5_12
  • Chapter length: 15 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-15-8852-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   149.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/bluebook/2012/html/data/data1_01.html .

  2. 2.

    When disasters on a massive scale happen, the government establishes Unit A (Review Department), Unit B (Information Department), and Unit C (Disaster Response Department) and they are based on the disaster management headquarters. Unit C has several groups (e.g., operations and transportation) and the 7th group is the overseas aid acceptance group, which is called C7 Unit.

References

  • Asazuma S (2012) Higashinihondaishinsai ni okeru kaigai karano kinkyu enjo (Foreign assistance in the Great East Japan Earthquake). Kokusai Mondai (International Affairs) 608:46–51

    Google Scholar 

  • Citraningtyas T, Macdonald E, Herrman H (2010) A second tsunami?: The ethics of coming into communities following disaster. Asian Bioethics Rev. 2(2):108–123

    Google Scholar 

  • DHA (Department of Humanitarian Affairs) (1991) INSARAG report of the inaugural meeting held at Beuggen, Germany, 11-13 December, 1991. DHA, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • DHA (Department of Humanitarian Affairs) (1995) The Great Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) Earthquake in Japan, 17 January 1995: the earthquake, on-site relief and international response. DHA, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  • Kaihara T (2009) Hyogoken Chiji no Hanshin-Awaji Daishinsai 15 nen no Kiroku (The Governor of Hyogo and the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake: Record of the 15 years). Maruzen, Tokyo

    Google Scholar 

  • Katayama Y (2013) Higashinihondaishinsai ji no kokusai kinkyu shien ukeire to gaimusho (Reception of international assistance and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in the Great East Japan Earthquake). Kokusai Kyoryoku Ronshu (J. Int. Coop. Stud.) 20(2, 3): 45–70

    Google Scholar 

  • Kelman I (2006) Acting on disaster diplomacy. J. Int. Affairs 59(2):215–240

    Google Scholar 

  • McLean I, Oughton D, Ellis S, et al (2012) Review of the Civil Defence emergency management response to the 22 February christchurch earthquake. https://www.civildefence.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/publications/Review-CDEM-Response-22-February-Christchurch-Earthquake.pdf. Accessed on 19 Apr 2019

  • Nishikawa S (1996) Hanshin-Awaji Daishinsai ni mirareta kokusai kyuen katsudo no misumatchi (Mismatch of international relief activities in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake). Chiiki Anzen Gakkai Ronbun Hokokushu (Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the Institute of Social Safety Science) 6:261–268

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2008a) Myanmar: Cyclone Nargis OCHA Situation Report No. 1 (4 May 2008)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2008b) Myanmar: Cyclone Nargis OCHA Situation Report No. 3 (6 May 2008)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2008c) Sichuan Province, China: Earthquake OCHA Situation Report No. 3 (15 May 2008)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2008d) Sichuan Province, China: Earthquake OCHA Situation Report No. 5 (19 May 2008)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2011a) Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Situation Report No.5 (16 March 2011)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2011b) Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Situation Report No.6 (17 March 2011)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2011c) Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Situation Report No.9 (20 March 2011)

    Google Scholar 

  • OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) (2011d) Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Situation Report No.14 (28 March 2011)

    Google Scholar 

  • Okita Y (2011) Tohoku chiho taiheiyo oki jishin: kokuren saigai hyoka chosei chi-mu no katsudo ni tsuite (The UNDAC team in response to the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake). Shizen Saigai Kagaku (J. Jpn. Soc. Nat. Disaster Sci.) 30(2): 279–287

    Google Scholar 

  • Okita Y, Katsube T (2016) Coordination of international urban search and rescue (USAR) teams in the 2015 Nepal Earthquake: Disaster literacy for international USAR. J. Jpn. Assoc. Earthquake Eng. 16(7):24–36

    Google Scholar 

  • Parsons C (2008) France urges the UN council to act on Myanmar cyclone. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSL07810481. Accessed on 18 Dec 2018

  • Sakamoto M (2013) Higashinihondaishinsai ni okeru kokusai kinkyu shien no ukeire chosei ni kansuru kenkyu: hisai chiho kokyo dantai ni yoru kokusai sosaku kyujo chi-mu no ukeire ni chumoku shite (The coordination system to receive international assistance in the Great East Japan Earthquake: focusing on the coordination of disaster stricken municipalities for receiving international US&R team). Chiiki Anzen Gakkai Ronshu (J. Social Safety Sci.) 21: 199–207

    Google Scholar 

  • Stockton N (2004) The changing nature of humanitarian crises. In: OCHA (ed.). The humanitarian decade, challenge for humanitarian assistance in the last decade and into the future. Vol. 2. UN, New York. pp 15–39

    Google Scholar 

  • UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) (1991) UNGA Resolution 46/182. Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian assistance by the United Nations. UNGA, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • UNGA (United Nations General Assembly) (2005) In larger freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all. Report of the Secretary General. UNGA, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Watabe M, Murakami T (2013) Kokuren jindo shien shisutemu no hatten to Higashinihondaishinsai (International humanitarian system and the Great East Japan Earthquake). Sekai Ho Nenpo (Yearbook of World Law) 32:195–215

    Google Scholar 

  • White House (2006) The federal response to Hurricane Katrina: lessons learned. White House, Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yosuke Okita .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Okita, Y. (2021). Preventing International Assistance becoming a Threat to Human Security: Japan’s Experience in the 1995 Kobe Earthquake and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. In: Pulhin, J.M., Inoue, M., Shaw, R. (eds) Climate Change, Disaster Risks, and Human Security. Disaster Risk Reduction. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-8852-5_12

Download citation