Special Issue on Safety Science: Comprehensive Approach to Social Disasters and Natural Disasters
In April 2010, the new Kansai University Safety Science Faculty started with 16 professors, to be increased to 25 from April 2011. Just half are social science researchers and the others natural science researchers. With natural disasters and accidents in Japan growing increasingly complex, conventional analysis on how to reduce disaster damage and avoid accidents has become increasingly inadequate. We need an interdisciplinary approach to solve problems underlying cooperative research.
A representative disaster is the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji (Kobe) earthquake, which killed 6,434 people and injured 40,000. It generated economic losses of $102.5 billion, 2.5% of Japan’s GDP at the time.
A representative accident is the 2007 Amagasaki JR Fukuchiyama Line rail crash, which killed 107, including the driver, and injured 562. The direct cause of the accident was speeding – the speed limit on the curve where the train left the tracks was 70 km/h, but the train was moving at 116 km/h. The most important indirect reason was the delayed implementation of a new ATS that should have been put in place from the viewpoint of cost management. Japan Transport Safety Board (JTSB) functions will be improved as a result of this accident. In the US, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) operates independent of US government agencies – a trend expected to be followed by the JTSB.
Both provided many potentially valuable disaster lessons, some of which this journal introduces. Other risk-related topics in this volume include tsunami information systems, information law, disaster education, and mental health and psychological approaches to the behavior of young people in the face of disaster, analyzed by our faculty members based on original viewpoints. Effort on these researches has to be continued to improve “Safety Science Study” and promote following social action to improve our social structure toward a safe and secure society.
We thank the authors for their earnest contributions and the reviewers for their invaluable advice on improving the quality of this special issue of JDR.