California and Japan Share a History of Natural Disaster Assistance, Research Collaboration to Save Lives

September 15th, 2021

Dr. Satoru NISHIKAWAIn this episode (#87) we talk with an expert on disaster mitigation. He is Professor Satoru Nishikawa, Disaster Mitigation Research Center, Nagoya University, Nagoya, Japan.

We had the opportunity to chat with Dr. Nishikawa about the topics that connect Japan and California - natural disasters. We each have a long history of disasters and as such, we each acknowledge we are disaster-prone. However, we don’t just accept that fact; we are both actively involved in research and the development of new ways to mitigate, respond to, and recover from those emergencies. In fact, we have shared information with each other, learning from our collective experiences and share a common history of helping one another during times of need. Dr. Nishikawa talks about all of that and much more.


Professor, Disaster Mitigation Research Center, Nagoya University

Dr. Nishikawa joined Japanese Government service in 1982 and has held various positions in the Japanese Government, the United Nations, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as well as a number of international organizations. In 1992, he took the position of Senior Disaster Relief Coordination Officer at United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs (UN-DHA) where he coordinated international assistance to numerous disaster-stricken countries. In 2001, he was appointed as the Executive Director of Asian Disaster Reduction Center. After resuming Japanese government service in 2004, he held senior positions in the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism of Japan. In the wake of the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, he coordinated the Japanese Government technical assistance to the affected countries. He was also the on-site coordinator for the Niigata-Chuetsu Earthquake in 2004. He hosted and coordinated the 2005 UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction where the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 (HFA) was adopted. In 2005, he proposed the Japanese Business Continuity Plan (BCP) guideline. He initiated the long-term regional recovery planning for Tohoku after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. He was a member of the Advisory Group to the UN SRSG for DRR on the Post-2015 Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Global Platform. He was the chair of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Catastrophic Risk. From 2013 to 2015, he served as Vice President of the Japan Water Agency.

He currently serves as:

• Member, Science Council of Japan

• Board Member, Institute of Social Safety Science

• Board Member, Business Continuity Advancement Organization

• Adviser, Japan Bosai Platform

• Board of Trustees Member, Asian Disaster Reduction Center

• Board Member, Save the Children Japan






The Great Japan Earthquake of 1923 (the Great Kanto Earthquake)

Cal OES - Plan and Prepare

Earthquake Warning California

Cal OES Preparedness Day 2019

California Day of Preparedness 2018

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Tsunami Preparedness - Saving Lives and Protecting Property

March 28th, 2017

Ryan Arba is the branch chief for the Cal OES Earthquake and Tsunami Program.   In this episode, Ryan talks about the program, its federal partner NOAA and the focus of this year’s Tsunami Preparedness Week events. 

The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, Earthquake, Tsunami and Volcano Program is continuously researching, learning, and collaborating with science, industry, and academic experts to develop and confirm the latest, best available knowledge base to help make California’s residents and visitors safer in the event of tsunamic activity. By mapping potential inundation and evacuation areas, providing assistance in response and evacuation planning, implementing outreach, education and warning signage at the coast, as well as determining ways to improve preparedness and resilience of California’s ports and harbors, our staff strives to ensure everyone on the coast remains safe before, during and after the next tsunami.

Catastrophic tsunamis are rare, we may have a tendency to get complacent and think that one will never happen while we’re at the beach. However, every coastline in the world is vulnerable to a tsunami. Although a tsunami cannot be prevented, you can diminish adverse impacts through community preparedness, timely warnings and effective response.​​​
​California’s 2017 Tsunami Preparedness Week is March 27-31. On March 29, Cal OES, the California Geological Survey (CGS) and the NWS will conduct a conference call with emergency managers from counties along the coast to test several aspects of the tsunami response, including the ability of the National Tsunami Warning Center (NTWC) to send and coast emergency organizations to receive specific tsunami alert messages.
During the conference call, representatives from the NTWC, Cal OES and CGS will also test their ability to accurately calculate and verify information contained in draft Tsunami Evacuation Playbooks that will be used by local emergency to determine if an evacuation is necessary and, if show, for how big of an area. The test also allows emergency managers from coastal communities to confirm their ability to receive playbook-related information, test their ability to make decisions regarding evacuation, and as well as to test their abilities to communicate information to port and harbor officials as well as to test their reverse notification and other warning systems reaching people in coastal hazard areas.


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