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Mayors of Stricken Areas Speak

Hello! This is ariTV’s Ōe. In the third winter since the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, what can the mayors of towns in the worst-hit areas tell us?

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The other day, the Tōhoku University International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), founded by the university after the disaster, hosted a symposium. Bringing together interdisciplinary wisdom, the organization aims to contribute to Tōhoku’s recovery and revival. They also advance cutting-edge research for natural disaster science in cooperation with domestic and international researchers.
In addition to earthquake and tsunami studies, they conducted field surveys of the severe rainfall in Yamagata and the storm surge caused by the typhoon in the Philippines. They are expanding their activities worldwide to develop ways to mitigate natural disasters.


The symposium held at Tōhoku University Aobayama campus had two purposes: to have participants know about the situations of stricken areas still in the process of recovering, and to enhance awareness of disaster recovery, disaster risk reduction, and disaster readiness. Teijirō Yoshioka, a former mayor of Shimabara, Nagasaki, and Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba spoke to the gathering.

Mr. Yoshioka’s term as mayor followed the eruption of Mount Unzen in 1991.

Mr. Yoshioka dealt with disaster response for more than 5 years. During that time, the “Shimabara Procedure”, a way to effectively provide emergency aid to affected areas, was invented. These methods involving the help of average citizens were invaluable when the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit in 1995. Summarizing his experiences, Mr. Yoshioka explained that involving the public in disaster response is critical.


Mr. Toba came into office a few weeks before the 2011 disaster, and has worked for disaster recovery since then.

He shared his ideas on the importance of each stricken community to achieve recovery not in the same way as others, but based on its own strengths. He looks further into the future beyond recovery towards making his city the best place for seniors and the disabled to live. To finish, he told about how rebuilding was finally starting to take shape, but that the circumstances remained difficult. Children in the devastated areas are staying strong, even though some of them lost their parents. He added that throughout Japan, people have their own problems, but he hopes we can appreciate what we have to be happy for.


Keeping the memory of the disasters alive, we need to take note of what these leaders have to say. As we move forward together, much still rests on their shoulders.


IRIDeS is set to enter into a comprehensive agreement with Rikuzentakata next month related to disasters.

IRIDeS continues to provide their knowledge to the public. Check in with them to find the latest information on disaster research.


International Research Institute of Disaster Science




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