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Lessons from Typhoon Hagibis

Approximately two weeks ago, we had a big typhoon named Hagibis (Japanese call it 'Typhoon 19') in Japan. The typhoon was so disastrous that people living in coastal area lost their houses and even lives. According to NHK news, the Shinkansen lines (bullet lines) were immersed in flood. Some of them became disused. Indeed, damage was extremely huge.

Typhoon Hagibis was formed around the Mariana Islands on Oct. 6, 2019, moved to Japan (from Okinawa Islands to Kyushu). Then, it devastated Kanto and Fukushima regions on Oct. 12, 2019. Especially, damage in Fukushima was serious because there was Fukushima earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. Again, tragedy was repeated in this region.

I remember many people in Tokyo purchased foods, drinks and other commodities at grocery stores at night on Oct. 11, 2019, to prepare for this big typhoon. However, it seems to me that such preparation was not enough. Rather, I was very curious why people in coastal area did not prepare for inundation. We had at least 5 days to predict the effects of this devastating typhoon. As I always point out, many Japanese people are not good at risk & crisis management. After crisis happens, Japanese people start to look for solutions.

The other point I realized was that people in Fukushima did not learn lessons from the past experience. They did not think how they can protect themselves from earthquake and tsunami though they had horrible experience eight years ago. Also, other Japanese living in coastal area should have learned the lessons from Fukushima. As a result, they lost their houses and lives.

Again, my job is to introduce the theories of Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM) to Japanese people. The origin of NDM lies in studies on how fire commanders make their critical decisions under life-threatening conditions. We Japanese need to learn NDM and apply the theories to practice.

Photo: NHK


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