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High court upholds ruling blaming local gov'ts over school kids' death in tsunami

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Is it about the money or punishing all the prefecture citizens to pay ¥1.4 billion to the families? Or is it about better evacuation plans for future tsunamis? Is it about ensuring school are not built in possible danger zones.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This is a good ruling, how many schools have a practical evacuation plan. Many times I've watched practice as students rush to put on their shoes! When I enquirer about the possibility of broken glass, debris that would possibly be present....blank stare. My idea, (might be wrong) keep the shoes on during class and all day, that's what shoes are designed for. No rush to a confined space no mass of panicking people jostling. Shoes already on get out the door.

In a Tsunami prone area going to a vacant lot, not going to do it. First alert, high ground. Alert a fizzle then it's a practice. Not so hard. But I could be wrong as these school hierarchy were.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.”

There were contigency plans in place and studies studies had been done, but nobodyat the school seemed to be aware of the impending danger. The fact the kids were kept in the playground for 45 minutes after the alert shows a major lack of communication. It doesn’t matter how many drills and studies are done, if there is a breakdown in communication the plans will always fail. Even in Tokyo the wheels fell off the infrastructure despite so many studies and drills. The Toei-Oedo line is supposed to earthquake safe and to be used for emergency services during a large quake. However, it was one of the first to be shut down and stayed shut down for nearly 8 hours. Yes, it was an unprecedented event, but the preparations fell far short.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

For an earthquake that humongous the first and correct instinct would've been to get to high ground as quickly as possible, especially since Ishinomaki is right next to the sea. That's where the hemming and hawing by those in charge cost those beautiful children and their teachers their lives.

Those duck and cover and earthquake drills in California I had as I was growing up stressed the importance of time and speed when it came to evacuation.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

So sad. 先生の言うことを聞いていたのに!! "We were only doing what the teachers told us to do!"

It must be a warning to other school districts throughout Japan, but where should all this compensation come from? Such communities cannot be rich.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Unbearably sad...hopefully lessons are learned AND IMPLEMENTED

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Unbearably sad...hopefully lessons are learned AND IMPLEMENTED

They were not learned from the start, and are bound to be repeated again. There are warning markers all over that area from hundreds of years ago where people who experienced a massive tsunami placed them as warnings to the generations that followed.

They were ignored and forgotten, as these will be as well, all in the name of progress!

These kids should never have died!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Is it about ensuring school are not built in possible danger zones.

You suggesting that Japanese schools not be built in Japan? Nowhere in Japan is outside of a danger zone. The difference that can be made is how a school can response to a disaster, which this school did poorly with horrible results.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This was a good ruling.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Shortly after the event in 2011/3 I read about these School Kids and their so called safe evacuation site, it was a deeply saddening situation and now it is confirmed that the local authority was behind the insane location. No amount of money can payoff the horrors that the parents must be imagining that their Kids went through when seeing the wall of mud and water come towards them. However the size of the fine, should give other local authorities a wake up call to review their existing safety procedures, and perhaps to update them.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

They don't learn either! Just last week I was in Okinawa. In Naha, about 1-2 blocks from the sea there was a large concrete building but only about 4 stories high. Written in Japanese on the top: "Tsunami Evacuation Site". Seriously!? Wouldn't stand a chance!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

However the size of the fine, should give other local authorities a wake up call to review their existing safety procedures, and perhaps to update them.

It's not a fine it's compensation. The money will be paid out the public coffers that's all the money the prefecture and city have. The larger number of citizens will pay the compensation settlement for a smaller number of citizens.

review their existing safety procedures, and perhaps to update them.

all along the Tohoku coastlines huge ugly concrete walls are and have been built which are suppose to stop the next tsunami. It would have been better to introduce zoning and spending the wall money on systems of faster evacuation.

Once beautiful views of the sea are now totally blocked out by the concrete walls. I would be so depressed with that forcing me to leave and fins a new place to live.

Ominous Views of Japan's New Concrete Seawalls

https://www.wired.com/story/photo-gallery-japan-seawalls/

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Building of walls, seems a bit like Titanic-esque ?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@zichi - fines/compensation sure, eitherways the rest of what I said still stands.

It seems you're more concerned over the sea views and of the footing of the "compenstation" bill, than the lives of those who were lost due to the same incompetent morons who're now building walls... remember we're all paying TEPCO for their involvement in the aftermath too and the compensation that they, as a "private" Company are paying out.

Now, in reality, as to local Government Financing, take a look at :

http://www.chihousai.or.jp/english/03/public.html

I would imagine that this, "Compensation" bill is currently being discussed with the National Government, in order to have minimal disruption to the local inhabitants level of taxation.

Maybe, just maybe, if those Japanese voters, feel like you, then they will vote out those elected members within the effected areas.

Would your views be any different had your Kids been at that School ? That may be an impossible one to answer by anyone who hasn't lost Kids due to someone else's failure. I wonder why the case went ahead then if it was not appropriate to seek compensation for fear of harming the pockets of their neighbors - this would appear to be a contradiction to the "Japanese don't cause any trouble" approach to Daily Life. And 15 Million yen for a Life is a minuscule amount.

I really hope, that the existing plans for evacuations are reviewed all across Japan, and maybe additional plans added in case of dire situations arising.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Why is someone more concerned about their lovely sea view and a potential tax hike rather than the Safety of the people and the admission of guilt in a problem from a local authority over an situation that their negligence caused. Sounds like a well to do UK Tory Councillor...

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It seems to me that the local government was expected to be better prepared than TEPCO and the nuclear industry.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The Conservative Council in North Kensington, London, was responsible for the Grenfell Tower Fire. They wanted to keep the surrounding local area looking very neat and posh by cleaning up the exteriors of housing estates with high rises, so they bought the cheapest exterior cladding that they could find and ignored the fire hazards associated with them. The end result... Grenfell Tower fire.

So the problems we're seeing in Japan, are not isolated to Japan alone, but exist in all Countries. And, just as in Japan, Court cases will go ahead, and compensation be sought. The higher the compensation, the more likely the local authorities will take note and minimise their risk to future high negative value events occurring. Likewise, if the Insurance companies will also take heed, and act to protect their own interests, and the insurance costs for these local authorities will increase unless they take action.

I'm not sure as to the situation in Japan with regards to local authority insurance, (If it exists) but hopefully the same will happen there too.

Money drives a lot of things.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

mmwkdw

It seems you're more concerned over the sea views and of the footing of the "compenstation" bill, than the lives of those who were lost due to the same incompetent morons who're now building walls... remember we're all paying TEPCO for their involvement in the aftermath too and the compensation that they, as a "private" Company are paying out.

The tragic story of the Okawa Elementary School has been posted many times on JT since it happened in 2011. It was one of many very tragic and sad events which killed more than 18,000 people including many small children and many families. The tragic story of the Okawa Elementary School could have been avoided because the children and teachers remained in the school yard for 45 minutes following the alert of the earthquake and tsunami warning was broadcasted across the entire nation. The school was located next to a mountain which may have saved the lives of those young students and their teachers had they at least tried to ascend it. I have previously expressed my comments on previous posts.

The school authority, the city government and the prefecture government were responsible for the safety of all the schools under their direct care. Whatever, the system failed.

But the funding of the Ishinomaki  and Miyagi is collected from the people of the city, the prefecture and somewhat funding from the central government. The amount seems excessive, ¥1.4 billion for 23 children.

If the cause had be by a private company then the loss would be from the company and stockholders.

As for the building of the huge concrete seawalls in the areas hit by the tsunami is likely to cost ¥500 billion. Maybe not the best way to protect against another powerful tsunami but one that is bringing huge profits to the country's top construction companies which are building them. ¥1 million/meter. 500 kms long.

If I lived in the area yes I would move rather than look out of my window at a once view of the sea now blocked by the wall without any guarantee they will even survive next time.

Warning systems and better evacuations. Many of the residents didn't realize what the building of these new sea walls would actually mean until they saw them.

It's impossible to prepare 100% for a disaster like the powerful Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Agreed compensation being paid by those individuals who were remiss in their duty would be fairer and act as pour encourager les autres.

NoIdeaAboutAnything, so they bought the cheapest exterior cladding that they could find and ignored the fire hazards associated with them

On what evidence do you base this assertion? I would suggest none but your political bias and a desire to use a tragedy to forward your particular agenda. Please provide evidence to contradict me.

The death of so many children and teachers was a tragedy but why oh why did any teachers keep the kids there for 45 minutes instead of moving them to (perceived) safety? You can't blame them for going to the designated safe place even if it proved not to be the case, we all have 20/20 hind sight but at the time they could not have known better, but to do nothing was reprehensible.

But yes the ultimate failure lies with the local pen pushers who utterly failed in their duty.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

zichi - it is unlikely that the Local government will be left footing the whole bill, and even if they do, then they will be granted National Government permission to issue a super long dated Local Government bond which, will have minimal impact to the finances of the Local inhabitants. Check the link that I posted as that gives an insight into where local governments get funding from.

Also TEPCO stock price plummeted after the event, but it's still in existence, and is still generating Electricity for the East of Japan (Note that the West of Japan is on a different Electric frequency 60 Hz... hence the Power Adapters you see with 50/60 Hz upon them).

I agree with you, that it is impossible to prepare 100% for every disaster, but common sense in this situation should have existed particularly given the region's history. The compensation amount, although small, should serve as a warning to other local authorities to take action and review plans since now it should no longer be a matter that they can ignore. Zichi, do you have any other better way to ensure that corrective action will take place ? Legally, this case, now sets the precedence for future actions should a similar event arise, as Lawyers will simply cite this case as an example. So as a result, Local authorities will now (hopefully) have it in their best interests to review old plans.

Warning systems do need improving, the loud speakers in some areas are simply just muffled, though in others are quite clear. The local police force (of which there are vast numbers) need to get on their bikes and ensure people are warned, though as we saw in some utube videos from the day, some people weren't so quick to react.

As for the construction efforts of a Japanese anti-tsunami maginot line, look at the construction work being provided to people within the Area, that's well needed employment. Again, this too is not going to be entirely funded by the local tax payers. Local Government finance is complicated, and wasteful in may peoples eyes, but is not entirely sourced from local tax payes dues.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

@englisc aspyrgend

I am Apolitical, so have no bias. I merely reported the facts that Local Governments have money concerns when trying to meet their OWN political agendas, and will be tempted to cut corners, but when they do, it comes back to bite them, big time.

Now without being privy to the insider redacted Government documents, I can simply rely upon Media reports:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40453054

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/16/manufacturer-of-cladding-on-grenfell-tower-identified-as-omnis-exteriors

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-cladding-fireproof-downgrade-save-money-cut-cost-293000-leak-documents-north-a7815971.html

https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/best-practice/health-and-safety/grenfell-cladding-changed-for-cheaper-option/10021259.article

So, get off your snotty high horse and smell the Roses.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The ancestors of the people of Tohoku placed stones along the mountains warning their descendents not to build and live below those levels because of the history of earthquakes and tsunamis. Their meanings were ignored by modern society and suffered from that. The communities at those levels survived the earthquake and the tsunami.

The next major earthquake and possible tsunami could happen in another area like the expected and overdue Nankai megathrush earthquake, along the Nankai Trough.

Do we build huge concrete walls around the entire coastline?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Seven years after tsunami, Japanese live uneasily with seawalls

“Everyone here has lived with the sea, through generations,” said Sotaro Usui, head of a tuna supply company. “The wall keeps us apart - and that’s unbearable.”

A common thread, though, is the construction of seawalls to replace breakwaters that were overwhelmed by the tsunami. Some 395 km (245 miles) of walls have been built at a cost of 1.35 trillion yen ($12.74 billion).

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-disaster-seawalls/seven-years-after-tsunami-japanese-live-uneasily-with-seawalls-idUSKCN1GL0DK

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

zichi, the ancestors story sounds nice, do you have a link ? It would be nice to read in full.

Here, I do agree with you, that building a wall around the coastline would be a futile event...

particularly since another event could reoccur.

https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/the-2011-japan-tsunami-was-caused-by-largest-fault-slip-ever-recorded/

Shortly after the event I saw a report that the plate shift could have been worse had it not been stopped by a smaller mountain of rock... now were that to be true, and if it were break in the next big event, we could see a larger drop than 50m which would create a huge tsunami which no walls would be able to contain.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

mmwkdw

zichi, the ancestors story sounds nice, do you have a link ? It would be nice to read in full.

There are many online links but here is one,

“Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/century-old-warnings-against-tsunamis-dot-japans-coastline-180956448/

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Thanks Zichi, that was a Great post! Good Historical insight too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A terribly sad picture.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@zichi. respect. the sad part of this news is the japanese govt won't pay, just small local people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why is someone more concerned about their lovely sea view and a potential tax hike rather than the Safety of the people and the admission of guilt in a problem from a local authority over an situation that their negligence caused. Sounds like a well to do UK Tory Councillor...

POTENTIAL tax hike? I guess you are unaware that everyone's taxes in Japan have been raised to assist funding the rebuild.

Oh there is ZERO need to rebuild in the same affected areas, and the things they are doing to the environment, literally raising the ground levels in some areas to stupid heights, costing trillions, that could have been saved by relocating instead.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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