Saturday 31 October 2015

Insights on Disaster Management

“The cities of today are the greatest assemblage of material resources, human capital, and goods and services the planet has ever seen” (Hass 2012). Japan isn’t an exception to this statement. It encompasses a well developed economic system and has a population of 127.3 million (World Bank 2013). Mixed use is located throughout the country with industrial, agricultural and residential sites being located side-by-side. Whilst this is the case, with the addition of a highly dense population, there is order and structure within the chaos.

Due to my limited time in the Japan I cannot comment on the ‘Planning System’ in regards to administrative, statutory and strategic functions, however I can talk about what I observed during my travels. Nishi Shinjuko is a district filled with late 1970 and early 1980s buildings that appear to be ‘frozen in time’ (Weddle 2015). The skyscrapers in the area have set global benchmarks that help maintain and grow a viable economic center for both Japanese and foreign firms. The district is currently undergoing major redevelopment due to a low loan rate of 0%. Due to this rate developers can justify “drilling into the sky” (Weddle 2015) to increase floor space and ultimately grow the economic viability of the structures. The successful development of Tokyo as a megacity is greatly due to its metropolitan rail network consisting of both JR and private lines. The complex system allows users to efficiently make it from their homes to their place of employment in a functional and reliable manor. According to the Central Japan Railway Company (2014) the trains in Japan are the most function in the world and have an average delay of 18 seconds a year.

Regional locations in Japan, such as Natori city, are also undergoing development. Since the 2011 Tsunami new planning precautions are being implemented. People are no longer able to live near the coast and in some places the ground level is being increased. Sea walls are being constructed and mountains are literally being moved to increase the ground level to help reduce potential future impacts. This concept of disaster management is different to what we do in Australia. After Black Saturday in 2009 the planning system prevented a lot of development in bushfire prone areas however since then development has resumed. Perhaps we should follow Japan's lead and enforce a blanket ban in disaster ridden areas.

Allistair Krause 


Weddle K. Walking Tour in Tokyo, 28th of October 2015.

Hass T. 2012 Sustainable Urbanism and Beyond – Rethinking Cities for the Future, Rizzoli International Publications, New York.

World Bank 2013, World Population Figures – Japan

Central Japan Railway Company 2014, Facts and Figures, accessed on 31 October 2015, <>

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