Learning from Japan’s Disaster-Proofing Strategies

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Learning from Japan’s Disaster-Proofing Strategies

An article on Bloomberg reports that Japan’s infrastructure is already one of the safest globally. Yet, the country continues to invest in disaster risk reduction from natural and climate-related disasters.

Strong earthquakes with a magnitude of six or higher frequently hit the island nation and several tropical storms.

The worst and more recent disaster that the country encountered was the 2011 Tohuko earthquake that sparked a massive Tsunami killing more than 15 thousand people and causing a meltdown of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The nuclear power plant disaster released harmful radioactive materials into the atmosphere and forced thousands of people to evacuate the area.

Climate-related disasters are also increasing significantly, according to the United Nations report. Global disaster events rose from 2,212 to 7,348 in the past two decades affecting 4.2 billion people and costing $2.97 trillion.

Japan is ramping up disaster risk reduction investments via seismic engineering and artificial intelligence advances, the article said.  It is investing around US$144.4 billion in its anti-disaster preparations. 

The country is upgrading its infrastructures like roads, schools, and airports, building its resilience against massive earthquakes, severe wind, and flooding through supercomputers that can predict weather events.

Japan has a unique disaster-proofing law called “kenchikushi” which holds its licensed architect and engineers liable for any building defects for ten years.

The article cites some of Japan’s notable structures that incorporate innovative techniques and climate-resilience.

The Tokyo Skytree is the world’s tallest broadcasting tower at 634 and the city’s tourist attraction. To adapt to strong winds, engineers designed a steel truss tower that allows winds to pass through the gaps.

The building also has a unique vibration control system that can reduce vibration up to 50% during an earthquake and 30% during strong winds. Built on its base are layers of steel and rubber that act as a shock absorber.

Japan has been using this technique since the 1980s, and now it is replicated overseas, particularly in Apple Inc.’s Silicon Valley Headquarters, the article says.

Newer medium-rise buildings in Japan incorporate wood into its steel-frame structures. “Steel can withstand pulling forces while wood withstands compressive forces, each material compensates for the other’s shortcomings,” says Yoshitaka Watanabe, Maeda’s chief engineer.  

The use of timber in construction also reduces the environmental impacts of construction, reducing its GHG emissions.

Carbon-neutral materials such as timber and carbon-neutral steel play a role in reducing GHG emissions to mitigate climate change. Check out our related blog on it: Carbon Neutrality in Materials Manufacture Design of Infrastructure.

To read the entire article on Japan’s Disaster-Risk Reduction Strategies, click the link below:

Source Citation:

Katanuma, M. (2021, January 14). What Japan’s Disaster-Proofing Strategies Can Teach the World. Bloomberg. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2021-01-13/japan-earthquakes-typhoons-disaster-proofing-lessons-for-the-world

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