カテゴリー:English Articles

Report on the 5th Day: The Backstage Members (5) Citizen Writers: Disseminating Information of the Citizens, for the Citizens, by the Citizens



Housewives, retirees, NPO staff… our writers come from a range of diverse backgrounds, but they are all writing to disseminate information as a “citizen”. We will be introducing various parts of the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction from the citizen perspective.

Through interviews with participants of the “Civil Society Collaboration and DRR” Thematic Pavilion held at the Sendai City Civil Activity Support Center, we have gathered valuable voices and opinions about the events. Wakako Yamada (38), a housewife writer living in Tagajo city, has written several articles about the events at Support Center as well as reporting on the days of the events. She has also engaged in interviews at DRR Science Shows and so on.

“I want to spread the voices of the citizens, how they tried to protect their own lives during the disaster,” she explains her motivation as a volunteer.



Wakako Yamada, working at the Support Center.


We interviewed Kiyoto Abe, who performed an experiment at the DRR Science Show on 15th. Abe is not only the organizer of the show, but also an announcer at FM Izumi Radio Station. He was indeed an interesting character with multiple faces.

I tried to delve into his deeper emotions by observing his facial expressions and changing my interview style accordingly. I managed to write an article of “Kiyoto Abe” from various perspectives. The finished article was uploaded onto Machinowa Blog on 13th March and Kahoku Shinpo Newspaper Online Community Blog on 14th March.

“I’m always impressed when doing interviews,” joked Yamada, saying how the article always reflects the personality of the writer.

The citizen writers this time were participants at the “Citizen Writers’ Corner” Activity held at the Support Center in 2014. Participants learnt about how to convey what they want to tell through writing, and also picked up tips on how to interview people. Many of the participants do simple interviews during their free time on the streets and at civil activities.



Yamada summarizes her interview materials.


“Looking at how participants share their ideas on how one can protect oneself in disasters, I find comfort in the fact that there is still hope for humanity,” says Yamada. The joys of a citizen writer is not just about relaying information, but the whole learning and growing process.

The mass media usually focuses on the main news in the world. However, we must not ignore the smaller news. The role of the citizen writers is to touch on these smaller news.

There were several young volunteers with burning passion. I became motivated myself looking at them. Yamada usually smiles when talking, but her face turns serious when she starts typing on the keyboard.


Takumi Wakai, 3rd Year at Meiji University



Report on 4th Day: Collaboration in DRR Between NPO and Community



A seminar, “Reassurance in Living with Connectedness”, reporting on DRR case studies of collaboration between NPO and the community, was held on 17th March at the Sendai City Civil Activity Support Center. It was organized by “Bosai kara Machizukuri wo Kangaeru” committee. 35 people turned up for the event.

Haruyoshi Osada (56), secretary general of Hamamatsu NPO Disaster Relief Collaboration Committee, asserted, “With proper collaboration between NPO and the community, we will be able to reach out to everyone, leaving no one behind, during a disaster.”

This Disaster Relief Collaboration Committee was established in September 2012. Bounded by a disaster relief contract with Hamamatsu City, when a disaster strikes, this committee provides relief support including social welfare for the physically disabled or the elderly who are left out of evacuation centers.

The establishment was sparked by a story heard from a NPO staff, who worked in the disaster stricken areas after the Great East Japan Earthquake. He sent requests to the local government for tables needed at an old folks home, but the whole process was constantly delayed until a month later when the NPO had to arrange for themselves. It was then when he felt that collaboration between NPO and local governments is indispensable in order to realize speedy and prompt relief support.


NPO Disaster Relief Collaboration Committee

Nagata and his team cooperate with various NPOs doing relief support in order to realize effective and efficient relief support. Receiving help from an application making company, they established their own community site online. This online site allows the sharing of information among cooperating organizations on the “when, where, who, what and how” of relief support. “Even though we have managed to cooperate effectively between the local government and the community, it still remains a challenge for us how we can manage the funds and spread this collaborative working style to the whole country”.



Nagata from the Disaster Relief Collaboration Committee, working on a project educating and grooming the next generation on DRR, with students from Hamamatsu City in the disaster stricken areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake.


Other speakers include Takako Koiwa (62) from “Hot Net in Higashi Nakata”, Mitsumasa Aoyagi (47) from Nippon Foundation. All of them stressed the importance of collaboration among the community, local government and NPOs, based on their respective experiences.


During the Great East Japan Earthquake, NPOs and NGOs were treated as volunteers. NPOs and NGOs are not volunteers, but relief support professionals. They can deliver speedy and effective relief support to people in need of help. Nagata hopes that effective collaboration with local governments can lead to more efficient relief support throughout the country. In order to achieve that, we need to fully understand the functions and activities of NGOs and NPOs.


Miyabi Umemura, 3rd Year at Doshisha University
Shihori Saito, 2nd Year at Tohoku Gakuin University



Report on 5th Day: Thinking about DRR through Internet



A symposium was held on 18th March at the Main Hall of Sendai City Community Center, looking into ways of utilizing Internet to enhance DRR. The theme is “Future of DRR Through Internet and Community”. Weather forecasting company “Weather News” was the organizer of this event. The guest speakers include Takabumi Horie, an famous entrepreneur who created new initiatives in Japan’s online community, Seiji Sugimoto, president of Niwango which manages popular online video site Nico Nico, Kazuhiko Yamashita from NHK online reporting department. The five of them each presented their views on DRR on the Internet.


The event was broadcasted live on online sites such as Nico Nico and Youtube. There were 8000 people viewing the site with comments flooding in from the audience.


During the Great East Japan Earthquake, many people uploaded photos and statuses onto social network services such as Twitter and Facebook, disseminating information on situation in the disaster stricken areas, evacuation centers and so on.

The biggest feature of this trend is that the information comes from an individual, with additional information that is missed out by television and newspapers. “SNS is something that people use on a daily basis, much more than public media like television and newspapers,” says Yamashita. “There is a need to make use of this SNS medium to enhance DRR”.

In December 2014, a JR Senzan train was trapped in the mountains between Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures due to heavy snow. The passengers were stuck in the train for more than 8 hours. The reporters from television stations could not get to the ground to report on the situation.However, the passengers took photos of the scenes and posted on twitter, reporting the situation live to people outside.

Horie emphasizes that “Utilizing SNS with a GPS function that reveals the location, and a one-line explanation, with a photograph can help a lot in providing crucial information during disasters”.
The speakers agreed that we should have the habit of updating photographs and information online from our daily lives, as this will be of great help in times of disasters. However, ease of uploading information onto the Internet can cause confusion and misleading information, without proper analyzing.

“We should create a system that analyzes and filters out these chunks of information to help people,” Horie pointed out.


Nao Kobayashi, 3rd Year at Tohoku Gakuin University
Fumiki Kamei, 2nd Year at Ritsumeikan University