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

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 $245
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month
DVD Cover of The Story of Sprawl

The Story of Sprawl

See how America changed shape in this collection of historic films that visually document how sprawl evolved.
$29.99 for 2-DVD SET

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $50.
$369 includes free shipping!