Prepared for Disaster, But not to Respond

Japan is typically associated with strong disaster preparedness plans, but the devastation following the March tsunami highlights some of the nation's shortcomings in adapting and reacting, according to this piece from Citiwire.

Disaster recovery expert Edward J. Blakely writes that there are two main problems holding Japan back from adequately responding to the disaster's impacts.

"A first dilemma: the Japanese were unable to react to a disaster that didn't fit their game plan. We heard and read how they were surprised by the tsunami breaking through the coastal defences, as well as how un-prepared their nuclear team was. But there's a greater issue for Japan lurking behind those surprises. Simply put, it's the Japanese nation's lack of flexibility in response to almost anything and everything that occurs in public and private spheres. On the one hand this characteristic has made the Japanese automobiles and electric appliances and cameras among the most reliable in the world. But when the Japanese operations manual fails, as it did during the tsunami, then the system has few responses, leaving the nation and communities paralysed.

Related to this is Japan's very narrow hierarchy. True, Japan pioneered the notion of assembly line corrections and improvements on the factory floor. But no such approach has been developed in government operations. In fact, virtually all decisions are made at the top - assuming anyone at the top will make the decisions."

Full Story: Japan’s Full — and Perplexing — Recovery Needs

Comments

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209
Book cover of Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Contemporary Debates in Urban Planning

Featuring thought-provoking commentary and insights from some of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field.
$18.95
Book cover of Insider's Guide to Careers in Urban Planning

So you want to be a planner...

Check out our behind the scenes look at 25 careers in the Urban Planning field
Starting at $14.95