"The Great Wall of Japan – Will it Save Lives?"
Kansai University & Member of Central Disaster Prevention Council
Graduate School of Engineering, Kyushu University
Founder of Kesennuma city Sea Wall Study Group,
Chairman of Kesennuma Chamber of Commerce & Industry
Language: The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation
The March 2011 disaster triggered tsunami that killed or left missing about 19,000 people. It washed away villages, farms, towns and hundreds of thousands of homes. As residents of a country susceptible to quakes and tsunami, the survivors know that disaster will almost certainly strike again.
Japan's government is putting its faith in a familiar solution: concrete. It plans to build hundreds of seawalls and breakers in the three worst-hit prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, at a total cost of about one trillion yen. Many more are planned. A joint 2012 report by the ministries of agriculture and land said that 14,000km of Japan's 35,000km coastline requires tsunami protection.
But do seawalls work? The evidence is mixed. In the city of Kamaishi, a $1.6 billion breakwater listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest, crumbled on impact with the tsunami. Nearly 90 percent of the seawalls along the northeast coast suffered similar fates. Critics say they even made the impact of the deluge worse in many places.
Bizarrely, the land ministry admits the new structures are not even designed to withstand the sort of seismic event that occurred in 2011. That was a once-in-a-thousand-year event that nothing can block, the ministry says. A growing number of people are pushing for a rethink of plans to build so many huge concrete walls. Skeptics include Akie Abe, the prime minister’s wife. But they are finding it difficult to reach the critical mass needed to trigger a national debate.
The FCCJ has invited three experts to discuss the issue. Yoshiaki Kawata is one of Japan’s top experts in disaster management, having published more than 50 books on the subject. Satoko Seino is an expert in consensus building and participation in coastal-zone management. Akihiko Sugawara is a businessman who is working to rebuild Kesennuma, one of the hardest-hit cities in March 2011.
Please reserve in advance, 3211-3161 or on the website(still & TV cameras inclusive). The charge for members/members' guest is 1,750/2,700 yen; non-members including guest-members eligible to attend may pay in cash. (Menu:focaccia sandwich - smoked salmon & italian ham.) Reservations canceled less than one hour in advance for working press members, and 24 hours for all others, will be charged in full. Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation. For meal service, please enter the room by 12:25.
*Working Pressは1時間、Associate, non-memberは24時間以内のキャンセルはフルチャージとなりますのでご注意ください。なおキャンセルは電話でのみ承ります。
Professional Activities Committee
Yoshiaki Kawata Satoko Seino Akihiro Sugawara