Survey Shows 2,300 Communities Nationwide have Created Disaster Management Plans; Lessons From Previous Disasters Used to Create Plans

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Residents participate evacuation drill in the Ando district of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture in March 2021.

It has been 10 years since the Community Disaster Management Plan system was systematically implemented. Such plans were originally devised mainly by local residents and were based on lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake, as municipalities could not function adequately during the disaster.

According to a survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun, at least 2,300 management plans have been prepared nationwide. The number increases to 6,300 when combined with those currently being prepared.

Amid a series of major disasters that have occurred since the 2011 earthquake, awareness of self-help systems as well as mutual support has risen across the nation. However, due to ongoing issues caused by differences among prefectures, some challenges remain to make plans more widely available.

When the Great East Japan Earthquake hit the Tohoku region, local government buildings were damaged by the quake and tsunami. Many administrative functions were paralyzed after local governments lost employees, delaying rescue efforts and support for victims. Community disaster management plans were included in the revised Basic Law on Disaster Management, aiming to strengthen response capabilities through self-help and mutual support at the community level. The law came into effect in April 2014.

Local voluntary disaster management organizations and businesses create the plans, which include evacuation and stockpiling based on the topography and anticipated disasters. The plans can be incorporated with the regional disaster prevention plans created by local governments, enabling stronger cooperation between the public and private sectors and a review of disaster management plans at the municipal level.