The Emergence of Food Panic: Evidence from the Great East Japan Earthquake
Oscar A. Gómez S.
Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Graduate School of Global Studies, Doshisha University, 602-0898 Karasuma-dori, Kamidachiuri-agaru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan
This paper documents a food panic in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, following the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake. A food panic is defined as a situation in which the general population fears losing access to food supplies, including drinking water, for an unknown length of time and, as a consequence, exhibits at least one of the following abnormal behaviors: panic buying, hoarding, or panic flight, probably aggravated by indiscriminate price hikes. Primary and secondary data, including media reports, official documents, direct observation, semistructured interviews, and an original survey, describe the characteristics of the food panic and suggest the mechanisms behind its occurrence. The reactions of major actors are depicted, highlighting the importance of the private sector in dealing with food panics. Suggestions for preparedness against such panics and challenges in future studies are covered in the last section.
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