«by: MA. ALETHA A. NOGRA Civil Def fense Offic III cer Office of Civil D e Defense-Departmen of Natio Defen nt onal nse R Republic o the Philippines ...»
Countermeasures taken against a disaster are also guided by the following disaster prevention and preparedness related laws: Erosion Control Act (1897), 2. Building Standard Law (1950), Forest Act (1951), Act on Temporary Measures for Disaster Prevention and Development of Special Land Areas (1952), 5. Meteorological Services Act (1952), 6. Seashore Act (1956), Landslide Prevention Act (1958), Act on Special Measures for Disaster Prevention in Typhoon-prone Areas (1958), Act on Special Measures for Heavy Snowfall Areas (1962), River Act (1964), Act on Prevention of Steep Slope Collapse Disaster (1969), Act on Special Measures for Active Volcanoes (1973), Act on Special Financial Measures for Urgent Earthquake Countermeasure Improvement Projects in Areas for Intensified Measures (1980), Act on Special Measures for Earthquake Disaster Countermeasures (1995), Act on Promotion of the Earthquake-proof Retrofit of Buildings (1995), Act on Promotion of Disaster Resilience Improvement in Densely Inhabited Areas (1997), Act on Promotion of Sediment Disaster Countermeasures for Sediment Disaster Prone Areas (2000), Specified Urban River Inundation Countermeasures Act (2003). For specific disaster response countermeasures, disaster emergency response related acts such as Disaster Relief Act of 1947, Fire Services Act of 1948, and Flood Control Act of 1949 are implored for guidance and implementation.
The comprehensive disaster management system in Japan is fully established with the enactment of Disaster Countermeasure Basic Act in 1961 prompted two years later after the occurrence of Ise-wan Typhoon in 1959 which brought immense damage to the country. The Ise-wan Typhoon which claimed 5,098 lives was considered as the turning point for strengthening disaster management system in Japan. The Japan Disaster management System has been further strengthened following the many lessons learned from large-scale disasters such as the Great Hanshin Awaji Earthquake.
During our visit to the Cabinet Office (Disaster Management) on February 26, 2013, we have learned that important revisions on the Disaster Countermeasure Basic Act will be finalized soon banking on the lessons learned from the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake which resulted to 20,000 deaths and missing and ¥16.9 trillion ($210 billion) estimated damage to the country’s economy.
Meanwhile, Japan’s disaster management system addresses all the disaster risk management phases such as prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery and reconstruction. The Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act defines the responsibilities of key players for disaster management, the organizations, and the planning system, disaster prevention and preparedness, emergency response, recovery and rehabilitation, as well as financial measures implored in managing and responding to disasters and the guidelines on the declaration of a state of emergency.
The institutionalization of an outstanding disaster management system and practice in Japan starts from the national level down to the residents level. At the national level starting from the Prime Minister to Central Disaster Management Council and designated government organizations and public corporations, formulation of Basic Disaster Management Plan and Disaster Management Operation Plan and promotion for their implementation are initiated and institutionalized. At the prefectural level with the governor to the Prefectural Disaster Management Council, designated local government organizations and designated public corporations, formulation and promoting the implementation of Local Disaster Management Plan is institutionalized.
At the municipal level starting from the mayors of cities, towns and villages in Japan, together with the Municipal Disaster Management Council, the formulation and promoting of the implementation of Local Disaster Management Plan is institutionalized.
The residents are encouraged to be protected in the spirit of mutual help with the different stakeholders. There are 23 ministries and agencies as designated government organizations that play an important role in the implementation of the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act while there are 63 organizations or designated public corporations including independent administrative agencies, Bank of Japan, Japanese Red Cross Society, Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), electric and gas companies and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) that likewise play a significant role.
It was only in 2001 when the post of Minister of State for Disaster Management was newly established to integrate and coordinate disaster reduction policies and measures of all ministers and agencies concerned. The Cabinet Office is responsible for securing cooperation and collaboration among related government organizations. The Director-General for Disaster Management conducts overall coordination and is mandated to undertake the planning of basic disaster management policies and response to large-scale disasters. Taking into account the lessons learned from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, the Cabinet Secretariat System was likewise strengthened and the Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary for Crisis Management was appointed. A Cabinet Information Collection Center to strengthen risk management functions to address emergencies, large-scale disasters and serious accidents. The cabinet Office has a crucial role in supporting the Cabinet Secretariat in matters of disaster management.
The Central Disaster Management Council is established in the Cabinet Office based on the Disaster Countermeasure Basic Act. The Council is chaired by the Prime Minister and the members consist of Minister of State for Disaster Management, all ministers, heads of major public institutions and experts. The council promotes comprehensive disaster countermeasures and tackle important issues on disaster reduction upon the request of the Prime Minister or Minister of State for Disaster management.
Management Planning System Basic Disaster Management Plan: This plan is a basis for disaster reduction activities and is prepared by the Central Disaster Management Council based on the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Act.
Disaster Management Operation Plan: This is a plan made by each designated government organization and designated public corporation based on the Basic Disaster Management Plan.
Local Disaster Management Plan: This is a plan made by each prefectural and municipal disaster management council, subject to local circumstances and based on the Basic Disaster Management Plan.
The national budget for disaster management is approximately 4.5 trillion yen based on the average annual budget from 1995 to 2004. The budget is allocated to Scientific Technology Research with 1.3%; Disaster Prevention and Preparedness with 23.6%; National Land Conservation with 48.7%; and Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation with 26.4% of the total budget. On research and development, the Science and Technology Plan - Third Term (2006) sets 10 important issues on disaster reduction for its implementation strategy. The plan also describes Japan’s basic scientific technology policies which set a major goal in making Japan a country that can take pride in being the safest in the world. The plan also sets an intermediate goal of ensuring the security of national land, society and people’s livelihoods. The research and development on Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) and information has been promoted by the Japan Meteorological Agency since 2006 in cooperation with related organizations, and the provision of EEW information to specific entities such as railway companies. The EEW information announces the estimated hypocenter and magnitude of an earthquake as well as the estimated arrival time of the S-wave of the earthquake and seismic intensity in such area. This information is made possible by detecting the P-wave near the epicenter and immediately processing the data since there is a difference in the speed of the P-wave, which arrives faster, and the S-wave which arrives later and causes more severely destructive phenomena. In the case of a large scale ocean trench-type earthquake, there may be a time lag of several seconds to several tens of seconds, between the issuance of the EEW information and the start of severe shaking when the S-waves arrives. This can be a critical time to be used for mitigating damage by stopping trains and elevators, extinguishing flames or crawling under tables.
For disaster prevention and preparedness, the national land conservation projects such as river improvement, soil erosion control (sabo), and soil and coastline conservation are carried out strategically for protecting national land, citizen’s lives and property from various disasters. The “Selective Infrastructure Improvement Plan” was set forth in 2002 to promote prioritized effective and efficient infrastructure improvement projects.
The “Forest Improvement and Conservation Works Master Plan” was formulated in 2003 to promote comprehensive and effective forestry improvement and soil conservation projects. Likewise, in observing, forecasting and warning of disaster risks, observation systems that can accurately detect disaster risks in real-time have been progressively improved for establishing early warning systems, supporting the early evacuation of residents, and response activities of disaster management organizations thereby reducing disaster damage. The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) carefully monitors various natural phenomena and weather conditions in a 24-hour system. The JMA also issues a wide range of forecasts, warnings and advisories regarding earthquake-generated tsunamis and severe weather events such as heavy rains.
A quick and accurate communication system is essential for effective use of early warning information thus, the JMA has built an online system linking disaster management organizations of the national and local governments and media organizations. Radio communications networks exclusively for disasters have been developed through the Central Disaster Management Radio Communications System which connects national organizations; the Fire Disaster Management Radio Communications System which connects firefighting organizations all over Japan; and prefectural and municipal disaster management radio communications systems which connect local disaster management organizations and residents. The Cabinet Office has developed a Central Disaster Management Radio Communications System so that designated government organizations and public corporations can use telephones or facsimiles via a hotline. It has also prepared an image transmission circuit so that pictures of disaster situations can be transmitted from helicopters in real-time. As a back-up for terrestrial communications, a satellite communications system has also been constructed. Simultaneous wireless communications system using outdoor loudspeakers and indoor radio receivers are used to disseminate disaster information to the residents. Tsunami and severe weather warnings are widely provided to citizens via TV and radio broadcasts.
An integrated disaster management information system has been developed by the Cabinet Office in order to help grasp the situation of the disaster early on and promotes information sharing among relevant organizations for a quick and appropriate decision-making for emergency response operations. There is a DIS or Earthquake Disaster Information System which is automatically activated upon the receipt of earthquake information with intensity level of 4 or higher from JMA. This is intended to estimate the approximate distribution of seismic intensity and scale of damage within 30 minutes. The RAS or Real Damage Analysis System by Artificial Satellite uses satellite images to assess actual disaster damage when it is otherwise difficult to determine the situation due to the disruption of transportation and communication networks. There is also a common information sharing system with a standardized information format called PF or Disaster Information Sharing Platform where various disaster information which are provided by ministries and agencies, local governments, relevant organizations and residents can be posted and accessed by all.
In order to secure a wide-area collaboration for a quick and smooth response and recovery and rehabilitation activities in case of a large-scale disaster, disaster management bases for information management, operations coordination, and logistics needs and network are set up. It is noted that the Cabinet Office is constructing main wide-area disaster management bases in cooperation with relevant ministries in Tokyo and Kanagawa in Tokyo Bay area to function as core bases for responding to largescale disaster in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area. Subsidies are likewise provided to local governments who promote qualitative and quantitative improvements of local disaster management bases.