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Japan resilient, but climate change making disasters worse: experts

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By Karyn Nishimura-Poupee and Hiroshi Hiyama

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© 2018 AFP

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Record typhoons, biblical floods, heatwaves, landslides and earthquakes: this summer, Japan really has seen it all and images of the destruction caused have been beamed around the world.

How can you have "biblical" floods in a country that doesn't believe in the "bible"? Not to mention that these images being "beamed" around the world are one thing that Mr Abe and company definitely do not want the world to see or hear about!

If ANYTHING puts a damper on tourists coming to Japan, it's reports like these, AND the lack of support for foreigners in Japan.

-11 ( +7 / -18 )

Meanwhile, in Kansai it's been raining nonstop for 3 days and schools like they'll be closed again. I feel like there's a WTF thought bubble above my head on a daily basis this year.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Japan is the size of my home state, California which is geographically about the same size as Japan but Japan has alot more people crammed into less livable space. I look at all that has happened in Japan in 2018 and in all fairness to Japan I do not think California would have fared so well if all of this happened there.

I agree with Jcapan - I have that bubble over my head too as in after 2 decades living here I have not seen so many things happen in a single year.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Shame to the expert. All these disasters were predictable based on current technologies. Yet, the expert blame on people, not on the failed system: the Abe govt. If you run a simulation on a model, if you predicted that the death rate will be high, then you, the govt, has to issue order to evacuate, no excuses.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Yubaru: article written by the AFP. Nation’s belief system has nothing to do here.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

This is an outside looking in type article. If you live here and are Japanese you would know more about the realities.

Also what is mandatory evacuation exactly and how would it be implemented? Every time the meteorological agency gets to a certain level (displayed red on their website) the area is on alert and purple tells you to get out of the way, get up high, or go to the evacuation site.

I think that personal complacency from practicing evacuations over and over since childhood and personal circumstances dictate what happens much more predictably.

My Okinawa friends don’t take typhoons lightly as they know what’s up. Here in Kansai old people are telling me they have never seen a typhoon like last weeks...they have also never felt a quake like the 6.1 that was right under Osaka.

I won’t be as complacent next time.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

This raises the question: Why would anyone live at the bottom of a mountain in such a seismically active country?

Actually I believe "This raises the question:" Why would anyone restart Nuclear Power Plants knowing all this disaster is happening?

13 ( +14 / -1 )

There is a red warning sign over much of central Japan for rain and it’s related hazards. It’s also been red half the week.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you live here and are Japanese

Only Japanese?

13 ( +15 / -2 )

How can you have "biblical" floods in a country that doesn't believe in the "bible"?

"Biblical" means "very great; on a very large scale", in English dictionary. Like it or not, Christian or not, this is a proper English word and is commonly used regardless of belief.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

I feel like there's a WTF thought bubble above my head on a daily basis this year.

We've been lucky in Tokyo this year but luck can't hold for ever.

Actually I believe "This raises the question:" Why would anyone restart Nuclear Power Plants knowing all this disaster is happening?

That's not a question anyone in this country wants to answer "on the record".

10 ( +11 / -1 )

jcapan

Apologies, obviously I meant “or”

I think schools will open today man, have a good one!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Also what is mandatory evacuation exactly and how would it be implemented?

It's the thing where the authorities have the data to predict that a particular little hamlet (like many others) in the beautiful foothills, with the cute little walled in mountain stream running through the town, populated by many old-timers living out their golden years is about to be WIPED. TF. OUT!... and ensuring that everyone leaves the village before that happens. Have a nice day.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Apologies, obviously I meant “or”

I think schools will open today man, have a good one!

No worries. I think kids in Osaka go to school even if there's an 大雨警報. Not the case in Kobe. Already a late start here. If the alert isn't lifted by 10am, the kids will be home for the second time in less than a week. Looks likely as it's still coming down pretty hard.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think the weather is clearly getting more unstable. Like many in Japan, my town has a JMA weather station with searchable data and a disproportionate number of records and near-records are in the past couple of years. It is right there in the numbers.

It is perhaps strange that the article encourages us to be critical of how Japan copes with climate change-boosted natural disasters without urging the Japanese government or us as individuals to do the slightest thing that might slow down or prevent such climate change. Don't blame the SUV drivers, frequent flyers, or half a cow in a burger eaters, blame the guy living in the path of the landslide.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

kohakuebisu, you have revealed an important information that couple of years already the weather shows a pattern of record extreme. I predict that next couple of years will likely reach or break records. I also predict that the govt knows it but doesn't want people know it. I am no scientist but a believer of Markov process. In the article, "Heimburger notes there are 372 zones designated as "highly dangerous", where buildings could collapse or burst into flame during a major earthquake". Obviously, the govt decided to do nothing.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It is perhaps strange that the article encourages us to be critical of how Japan copes with climate change-boosted natural disasters without urging the Japanese government or us as individuals to do the slightest thing that might slow down or prevent such climate change. Don't blame the SUV drivers, frequent flyers, or half a cow in a burger eaters, blame the guy living in the path of the landslide.

Strangely, the article’s intent seems to be to provide reassurance to the people of Japan who should be experiencing uncomfortably high levels of cognitive dissonance as so much of the actual climate change effects they are now suffering from, are caused by the industries they, for decades, have had so much pride in.

The article’s basic message seems to be “no reason to fret or change our ways - keep on keeping on - keep buying and making stuff - high-tech Japan will figure it out.”

Yes, tech is important - especially when it comes to developing new natural alternative energy sources but it’s not as important as simply using less energy by changing the way we live. For example, what the world really needs is many more carless drivers not driverless cars.

The demands of big business for never-ending economic growth is killing the planet. Sustainability and responsibly managed degrowth can save it.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Now that its mentioned, Japan ranks only 4th place (2016) in the disaster risk index. What more to the ones ranking higher on the list (Vanuatu, Tonga, Philippines).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Shame to the expert. All these disasters were predictable based on current technologies. Yet, the expert blame on people, not on the failed system: the Abe govt. If you run a simulation on a model, if you predicted that the death rate will be high, then you, the govt, has to issue order to evacuate, no excuses.

Akie - I don't see the point you are trying to make here. Earthquakes are NOT predictable based on current technologies. Typhoons are, and so are heatwaves and flooding. The JMA were spot on in their predictions of the typhoon and heatwave, I'm not so sure about the flooding. And why are you blaming the Abe government for the natural disasters? I probably dislike them as much as you do, but you lose all credibility when you make such comments.

I do agree with yokohamarides that they are part of the problem in continuing to promote this More People,, More Business, More Consumption 20th century way of thinking, although they are hardly unique in the world for doing so, but blaming them for the disasters themselves is ridiculous.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

cucashopboy, the govt has wrong priorities, wrong threats, wrong budgets, that is why it is blamable. If the govt promoted natural disasters as major threats to Japan and to the people, every days, in the news, on TV, in policy speeches, at UN, and increase the budget each and every year in historical record to deal with the threats, then perhaps, Japanese people would take the disaster warning more seriously. How much does it cost to fix Heimburger's 372 highly dangerous zones ? Probably is less than to fix NK nuclear strikes. Now it turns out that there will never be a strike.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Akie - I don't know where to start with that reply, but I'll start with just one question - how could the government have prevented the typhoon, heatwave, floods or earthquakes this year? And in the case of any major natural disaster, there are going to be a number of unlucky people who are in the wrong place at the worng time who lose their lives. Blaming the government or the people who lost their lives, say due to the massive landslide caused by the Hokkaido earthquake, for not being prepared enough is muddle-headed at best and insulting to those who lost their lives at worst.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

What’s a “biblical flood”?

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

Great to finally read an article in the Japanese media that mentions the elephant the room - the clear pattern of changing weather = climate CHANGE.

This needs much more exposure in Japan to fe-focus away from the reletness desire for consumption and growth - the main drivers for the problems we face.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

As bad as things are for Japan, it is important to realize that things are bad world-wide. As the atmosphere and the oceans heat up, the Earth's climate is changing in ways that are largely unpleasant for humans. The worst case scenario is that large parts of the Earth will become uninhabitable.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

As for the people blaming the govt. for not ordering evacuations. It's a bit complicated.

Seismic catastrophe aren't easily predicted, they just happen. There's nothing the government can do about it.

What the government can do is to assess locations where landslides are likely to happen and prevent the people from residing there.

As for the recent typhoon. The people are warned. It's time to make businesses take warnings seriously. Hold off any work that requires employees to go outside.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

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