Could the March 11 disaster in Japan have been avoided? –ScienceDaily


On March 11, 2011, several disasters in Japan were triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake, including the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This event, also known as the 3/11 disaster, is called a complex disaster. Now that more than a decade has passed since that event, researchers are studying how to prevent the next complex catastrophe.

Although the 3/11 disaster was an event of unprecedented magnitude, recently published research suggests that this event was not inevitable and turns to an unexpected resource for anticipating complex disasters: 20e environmental inventories of the century.

The results have been published in a peer-reviewed journal Landscape and Urbanism August 27.

“While huge efforts have been invested in disaster risk reduction, Japan and many countries continue to see catastrophic events. Effective policies and actions to reduce complex disasters require multi-hazard risk assessment,” said Misato Uehara, associate professor of the Research Center for Social Systems at Shinshu University. “This article has proven that by integrating and using the results of 20e science of the century, such as the Japan National Land Agency (JNLA) Environmental Inventory of 1980, it might have been possible to anticipate recent major disasters.”

Currently, it is much easier to anticipate individual hazards, such as the impact of a hurricane on flooding, but this does not necessarily reflect the reality of what happens in the event of a major disaster. Major disasters affect large regional areas and individual risks are interconnected. However, accounting for multiple hazards and how they escalate during a major disaster is often inaccessible to governments and organizations due to a lack of information, funding and the unexpected ways in which hazards occur. can interact with each other in the real world.

In this study, researchers looked at ecological planning and the role of an environmental inventory in the planning and prevention of complex disasters. They used a technique developed by Ian McHarg in 1969 which was described in his book titled Design with nature. The technique is typically used in ecological planning to determine land use suitability using environmental and cultural criteria. These overlays examined the risk of possible disasters such as volcanoes, earthquakes, mudslides and floods.

The researchers hypothesized that risk assessment by different environmental classification maps in the same area could predict where aggravating disasters would be most destructive. “Using this theory, risk assessment of any location is possible. Despite advances in hazard knowledge and risk modeling since 1980, recent hazard maps still present very limited,” Uehara said. Although this technique has been widely used in environmental planning and landscape architecture, it is not common practice in disaster risk mitigation. Most of the existing research on the application of this technique to risk assessment has focused on single rather than multiple risks.

To prove the viability of the technique, the researchers compared 1980 composite hazard maps from the National Land Agency of Japan to maps showing earthquake damage in Great East Japan and compared them to the maps. Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Hazard Report 2019. Of the 60 damaged road sites, 89% were rated as having one or more high risk according to the 1980 JNLA map. Only 8.4% of the damaged highways were noted on the 2019 MLIT map. the Fukushima nuclear power plant, including the two plants, the substation and the emergency site, were considered high risk on the JNLA map. Even after the 2011 disaster, 0% of these locations were rated as high risk in the 2019 MLIT map.

Looking ahead, the researchers plan how to continue to evolve complex risk assessments that involve multiple hazards. “Research will continue on the possibility of assessing the risk of an entire region based on the characteristics of environmental classifications as opposed to risk assessment, which involves advanced computer simulation to limit the scope of the assessment and natural conditions,” Uehara said. “Governments and organizations that lack the resources for advanced risk modeling could benefit from conducting such a relatively simple and inexpensive multi-hazard risk assessment to reduce complex disasters.”

Other contributors include Kuei-Hsien Liao from the University Institute of Urban Planning at National Taipei University, Yuki Arai from the Faculty of Humanities at Matsuyama University and Yuta Masakane from the Faculty of Agriculture at Taipei University. University of Shinshu.

The 2021 Japan Prize Heisei Memorial Research Fellowship, JST, and the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature supported this research.

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Material provided by Shinshu University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


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