8th Email from Japan-Preparation for disasters
Dear friends of GLOBIS & KIBOW,
I am writing this “Email from Japan” in a hotel room looking at the Amazon River in a city called Manaus in the Amazonas State in Brazil. I have attended the World Economic Forum on Latin America held in Rio de Janeiro from 27-29th in April and decided to take a trip to Amazon for a few days before I attend the Milken Institute Global Conference at Los Angeles on May 3-5.
At the conference in Rio, I spoke at the panel titled “Global Risks with Latin American Impact”. I have attached my speech memo for your reference. I was very amazed at the level of interest we receive on Japan. I was also pleasantly surprised to know that quite a few global leaders are reading my “Email from Japan”, such as Prof. Klaus Schwab, and a Managing Director at Robert Greenhill. Thank you all for mentioning about the emails to me when you saw me. Those feedbacks give me energy to continue writing.
At the WEF conference in Rio, there was a private session discussing risks and opportunities. As for risks, we all seem to know well what we are facing. Nothing new came up except for Tsunami, Nuclear radiation, and supply chain issues that have emerged out of Great East Japan Earthquake. As for opportunities, I personally felt very reassuring to think that 116 countries and 28 international organizations have offered or sent rescue teams to Japan right after the Earthquake. One of the richest countries like Japan has become the largest recipient of donation or assistance this year.
The fact that the international community has shown this level of cooperation is something that we can be proud of as a global citizen. Japan promises to all of you that when something happens in other regions, Japan will be one of the first to send rescue and donate money to assist you.
At the Amazon River, I have learnt that the water level rises by 15m from dry season to wet season. If this rise of water happens in the developed world, it would bring great flood which would affect and damage many lives. But in the Amazon, nothing happens, as everybody is well prepared for it. I thought that Japan should have been much better prepared for Tsunami, as there had been that level of tsunami in the past.
I was very impressed when I read a Japanese newspaper article with a headline “Stone Monument saved lives of descendents by telling not to build houses between the Stone and the coast”. The inscription starts like this, “houses high on the hills bring peace for descendents. Be prepared for disasters of tsunami”. The stone was constructed 500m from the coast a little up on the hill. The area was attacked by tsunami in 1896 and 1933.
“The village was devastated. Only 6 people survived from the tsunami. Tsunami reached as high as this place, therefore, nobody should build houses below here. Do not forget this no matter how long it takes”, the Stone said.
Thanks to this Stone Monument, nobody was reported dead in that village of Aneyoshi district in the Miyako-city, where the height of tsunami was recorded as high as 37m.
I personally think that we should build this kind of stone monuments in every city devastated by tsunami, as tsunami will come back again in the future, as had repeatedly happened in the past.
As for the Nuclear Reactors, they survived magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 15m high tsunami, but lost electricity and backup system. All we need to do is to prepare so that this level of tsunami will not knock the generators down.
Japan receives 20% of all the earthquakes in the world. Further, Japan has full of volcanic activities and typhoons. We have been well prepared so far against earthquakes, as exemplified by the fact that Shinkansen stopped immediately and the gas was automatically shut off, so that there was few reports of fire. Further, most of the building survived the earthquakes.
However, we had not been well prepared for tsunami. We have to do a much better job in preparing for tsunami by learning from the past, and telling lessons learnt to the descendants in the future.
Yoshi Hori@Amazon River
Leader of GLOBIS and KIBOW
Speech Memo for WEF on Latin America:
Risks-Case of East Japan Great Earthquake
1) Magnitude 9.0 Earthquake that shook East Japan for 3minutes. Tectonic Plate has moved for 500Km in length and 250km in width. Japan was well prepared for earthquake Shinkansen (bullet train) stopped immediately, and gas also stopped so that few incidents of fire were reported.
2) Tsunami 15m height (in Miyako it was reported 37m) Tsunami has devastated East Japan coastal towns and cities, killing 97% of 30,000 victims.
3) Radiation threat of Fukushima: Survived earthquake and Tsunami, but cooling system was out (no electricity) Declared Level 7. The explosion of No.1 -No.4 four reactors. The evacuation zones 20km radius, ban on shipment of vegetables; water contamination which has affected fishing. Japan’s reputation was damaged globally.
4) Power Shortage: Tokyo, the single largest metropolitan area in the world is short of power. We had to go through rolling blackouts. This has and will have a major consequence on the economy.
5) Supply Chain Issues:
-With the supply of components stopped, TOYOTA plants have to shut down globally, TOYOTA will most likely to slip from No.1 position to No. 3 position this year.
6) Impact on Economy: more bankruptcy & unemployment
7) Fiscal burden of reconstruction may lead to default of JGB?
3rd largest economy with more than $1trillion of foreign reserve (15% of the World and twice more than the EU) could be in danger.
8) More discussions, such as Nuclear or anti-nuclear? What is the alternative? Oil prices etc.