These billboards are a common sight around Japan explaining how communities can come together to reduce disaster risk. This particular billboard features popular Japanese cartoon character Maruko-chan.
GENEVA, 9 March 2012
- The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, today paid tribute to the resilience of the Japanese people as they prepare to mark the first anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
She said: "One of the great learnings from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami which can be applied in many other disaster-prone countries is the absolute importance of preparing populations at risk for the worst-case scenario. Mental preparation is just as important as physical protection. It is also vital to keep alive the historical memory of past events.
"Japan excels when it comes to public awareness of risks, evacuation drills and mobilising the population in a way that few other countries can emulate. We are aware of examples of where school children seized the initiative and escaped the tsunami while also helping younger children to flee.
"There can be no doubt that the toll of 15,854 killed and 3,203 missing would have been much higher among the 600,000 or more people at immediate risk in the affected areas if people had not responded to the early warnings. Let us not forget this great achievement when discussing all the other things that could have been done better.
"A recent survey of 82 countries by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, UNISDR, shows that less than 20% of countries committed to implementing the Hyogo Framework, the international blueprint for disaster risk reduction, have reported substantial progress on generating public awareness of risks and of how to address them. Good overall progress is being made on disaster management but it is clear that more emphasis needs to be placed on raising public awareness and instilling the right reflexes in people when disaster is imminent so they get out of harm's way in good time."