Special Issue on Literacy for Disaster Resilience: Building a Societal Capacity for Reducing Disasters Due to Earthquake and Volcanic Eruption
Makoto Takahashi* and Naoyuki Kato**
*Professor, Nagoya University
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
**Professor, The University of Tokyo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
The national earthquake and national volcanic eruption prediction programs of Japan started in 1965 and 1974, respectively, based on the recommendation of the Geodesy Council. As a result, observations of seismic and volcanic activity have been enhanced and our understanding of the mechanisms of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions has made significant advances. However, these research results did not fully contribute to mitigating the damage caused by the 1995 Kobe earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake. In order to make further contributions to disaster mitigation, we recognize the importance of research to apply the scientific understanding of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in collaboration with researchers in related research fields. The Earthquake and Volcano Hazards Observation and Research Program (2014–2018) was thus started on the basis of a recommendation of the Council for Science and Technology.
In this Program, research in the area of forecasting the hazards of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions has become one of the main pillars of research. Disaster information and knowledge of the disaster process, which involve the interaction of hazards and natural and social vulnerability, have been investigated in cooperation with earth scientists, engineers, and social scientists. On the basis of our results, research on literacy for disaster resilience was selected as one of the main pillars of research in the Second Observation and Research Program of Earthquake and Volcano Hazards (2019–2023), because a better understanding of and immediate information about disasters are important for disaster mitigation.
This special issue, which aims to disseminate the results of almost five years of research activities on literacy for disaster resilience in that Program, includes 15 papers and survey reports from multidisciplinary fields of study. The collection begins with Kimura and Ikeda’s important paper discussing the conceptual structure of the knowledge and abilities necessary to build disaster resilience capacities by analyzing school and community-based efforts, followed by a variety of empirical studies that are loosely categorized into two groups.
The first group of papers concerns the understanding of disaster processes and mechanisms themselves as a factor inducing disaster prevention and mitigation. First, Ebina and Sugawara, and Sugimori attempt to learn lessons from the pre-modern earthquake disasters based on past picture maps and scrolled records, respectively, followed by Ohkura’s interesting paper that points to problems in the Aso Volcano disaster mitigation system by analyzing the 2021 phreatic eruption process. Next, utilizing information and communication technology to support effective evacuation, Inoguchi, and Shiozaki and Hashimoto develop a disaster management toolkit and the tsunami drill program, respectively. The following two papers of Takubo et al. discuss behavioral mechanisms in a disaster period based on their simulation experiments from a cognitive science perspective.
The second group investigates methods of enhancing people’s literacy for disaster resilience, paying special attention to the interaction between science and civil society, led by Sawada and Sato, and Muroi, both discussing the disaster risk reduction efforts of small and medium-sized enterprises and of community-based organizations, respectively, in anticipation of the Nankai Trough earthquake and tsunami. Next, Kimura and Aikawa propose an education program to enhance the disaster awareness of high school students who have never experienced disasters. Further, four papers deal with the issue of people’s access to scientific knowledge focusing on the roles of university institutes, including case studies of so-called open science initiatives, by Yamori, Nakamichi, and Sakamoto and Nakamichi, and finally, a comparative study of several research centers in volcanic localities by Horii et al.
These studies argue for the importance of the concept of literacy for disaster resilience to embed scientific knowledge in society and interconnect theory and practice, but the study of such a concept, especially in relation to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, has just begun. We hope that this issue will encourage discussions from a wide range of scientists, experts in education and disaster management, and policy makers.
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