By Yuki Matsuoka
KOBE, 17 November 2011
- Disaster risk reduction topped the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser who visited the city of Kobe and its Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution. The centre has experienced an increase of 30% in the number of visitors since the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011.
Located on the shores of Osaka Bay, the Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI) is a memorial to the Great Hanshin-Awaji earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people in January 1995. The DRI includes a disaster reduction museum to promote risk mitigation within Japan and abroad.
“As disaster risk reduction is one of the four pillars of my work, I have learnt a lot from the visit to the museum, in particular from a documentary film showing towns and people tackling challenges faced during the recovery and reconstruction process following the earthquake,” said Al-Nasser.
Further underscoring the importance of the museum, Tomoyuki Yoshimoto, the Vice Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, said: “Seeing is believing. From visiting the museum, people can understand the destructive force from the disaster. At the same time, there is a lot to learn from past experiences to build the resilience of the society against future disasters.”
The DRI aims to foster a culture of disaster reduction, vulnerability mitigation, and to conduct research on disaster risk reduction (DRR). Through interactive programmes and museum displays, the institution educates the public on how cities, communities and individuals can be better prepared for disasters; how disaster risk management and mitigation requires involvement by both national and local governments and local communities and individuals.
The museum receives over 500,000 visitors annually. More than half of these visitors are students from around Japan who want to learn more about the earthquake and DRR.
In addition to meeting with the Vice Governor of Hyogo Prefecture, the General Assembly President also met Yuki Matsuoka, head of UNISDR’s Hyogo Office, and other senior officials from the Hyogo Prefecture. They discussed the Prefecture’s recovery from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake and its implementation of DRR measures.
Later in Tokyo, Al-Nasser met Osamu Fujimura, the Chief Cabinet Secretary and Prime Minister ad interim. Japan is slated to host a high-level meeting in July 2012 on large-scale disasters, learning from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.