Immediate and long-term strategies

Governments need to mobilise their rescue services quickly to respond to a disaster.

  1. Rescue services - In the short term, the rescue services and army had to move very quickly into the affected area. They were able to clear roads and create access paths very quickly but the amount of silt caused by the tsunami made efforts to count the number of deaths very difficult.
  2. Healthcare - Many hospitals were destroyed or damaged and field hospitals had to be set up. Doctors and nurses were flown from other parts of the country to help with the relief efforts and many patients were flown far out of the emergency area to receive treatment.
  3. Shelter - Over 300,000 were left homeless and needed access to food, water, shelter and medicine. The army helped to build many temporary shelters very quickly.
  4. Rebuilding - The rebuilding of the worst affected areas began almost immediately. The government set up a Reconstruction Design Council who had a budget of over 23 trillion Yen to rebuild houses.
  5. Tsunami barriers - The original 12m tsunami barriers were replaced with ones that were 18m high. However, some scientists have noted that this would still not protect property if a similar earthquake was to take place.
  6. Normal lives - The Japanese people tried hard to get their lives back to normal in the weeks following the earthquake. Summer festivals continued as normal.
  7. Economic responses - Many Japanese manufacturers were affected by the earthquake (e.g. Toyota and Honda) because they could not restart production as factories and supply lines were damaged. It took around 1 ½ years for production to start to get back to normal.
  8. International Aid - The Japanese Red Cross received over $1 billion in donations and they gave out over 30,000 emergency relief kits and 14,000 sleeping kits.

Preparation for earthquakes in Japan

Some government strategies include:

  1. Predicting earthquakes: Over £70 million was spent on lasers that are used to monitor even the slightest movement.
  2. Practicing for earthquake emergencies: Every year on 1st September an earthquake and tsunami drill takes place to make sure that the rescue and emergency services know how to respond.
  3. Earthquake-proofing the buildings: Billions of pounds have been spent making buildings more resistant to earthquakes. This involves using types of glass that does not shatter, weights in the building to counter the sway or huge shock absorbers in the foundations.
  4. Setting up early warning systems: Japan has had a tsunami warning system since 1952. There is also a complicated network of seismographs across the country to monitor and report any earth movements.

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