Local Government Profile
"We sincerely hope that our efforts will help to lessen the impact of disasters around the world, even if only a little a bit."
Hazard and vulnerability profile
Located on the Pacific side of the Tohoku region, Sendai City (referred to below simply as Sendai) has been hit by earthquakes emanating from the Japan Trench. Even for Japan, the city is known for frequent earthquakes, and it is projected that an earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater with a hypocenter off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, where Sendai is located, hits around once every thirty years (In January 2010, before the Great East Japan Earthquake, there was a 99% probability the area would be hit by such an earthquake within thirty years). On account of geographical factors, major rains cause flooding in the area.
The major disasters that have occurred are as described in the attached sheet.
Disaster Risk Reduction Activities
Disaster risk reduction activities of Sendai City are follows;
- Establishing the Sendai City Regional Disaster Prevention Plan which specifies the roles of the municipal government, the prefectural government of Miyagi, private businesses, local associations and others in tackling disaster preparedness efforts and calls for all actors involved to share the same understanding and to cooperate in their implementation.
- Securing the budget for mitigating disasters
- Ascertaining and utilizing risk information
- Developing infrastructure to mitigate damage from disasters
- Ensuring safety through checks of structures
- Disaster prevention training at schools, etc.
- Introducing an early reporting system
- During the process of creating the reconstruction plan, consideration was given to the opinions of citizens, including those impacted by the disaster, since the draft proposal stage.
Role Model in Promoting community-based disaster risk reduction and empowering people to act on disaster risk reduction.
Progress and achievements – Sendai’s disaster prevention and crisis management systems
In addition to creating the position of Crisis Management and Disaster Prevention Director, who is responsible for crisis management and aids the mayor, Sendai has established the Crisis Management Section within the General Affairs and Planning Bureau and the Disaster Prevention and Planning Section and Disaster Damage Reduction Promotion Section, both of which are part of the Fire Bureau, as organizational units responsible for disaster prevention and disaster response measures (the office and two sections have around 40 members). In addition, the Post-Disaster Reconstruction Bureau (with around 150 members) was created to handle various activities including coordinating reconstruction measures after the Great East Japan Earthquake, helping those impacted by the earthquake rebuild their lives, undertaking the mass relocation of people from areas hit by the disaster, and reconstructing housing.
The roles of organizational units other than those discussed above are clearly given in the local disaster prevention plan, which was created in accordance with the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures, and each one understands its roles and what contributions it can make. When a disaster hits, there is a city-wide response. For example, refugee areas are primarily the responsibility of local ward offices, and the Environmental Bureau is mainly in charge of handling debris after an earthquake. This made it possible for the city to respond effectively to an actual disaster.
When the city sustains major damage, the Disaster Response Headquarters is convened in accordance with the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures and the local disaster prevention plan. The operations of the headquarters are centered on the Crisis Management Section within the General Affairs and Planning Bureau, the PR Section, and the Disaster Prevention and Planning Section and Disaster Damage Reduction Promotion Section, both of which are located in the Fire Bureau. Since cooperation with related organizations is important, liaison officers are sent from the headquarters of the Miyagi Prefectural Police and the Self Defense Forces, and efforts are made to tie this to effective operations.
Cooperating with citizens’ groups, etc.
1. Sendai has had a Sendai City Disaster Prevention Council since 1963, and the council sets the local disaster prevention plan. Members of the council include representatives of concerned organizations, such as neighborhood associations, which undertake activities closely tied to local residents.
2. Sendai has also established independent disaster prevention organizations, which are mainly based on neighborhood associations, since around 1980. The organizations promote disaster prevention in their local area. In recent years, 10–30 such organizations have been formed annually, and there currently are more than 1,350 such organizations throughout the city. This means that more than 95% of neighborhood associations in the city have formed such an organization.
3. Fire Bureau employees knowledgeable in disaster prevention are appointed as local disaster prevention advisors to support the activities of the independent disaster prevention organizations discussed in 2 above, and 85 such advisors have been trained. Providing various forms of support including appropriate advice for local disaster prevention activities, these organizations have had major successes related to activities to prevent and mitigate disasters.
4. Sendai and the Council of Social Welfare work together and launch disaster volunteer centers when a major disaster hits. Even during the Great East Japan Earthquake, disaster volunteer centers were operated, mainly in areas hit by the disaster, and these centers received support from both residents and areas throughout Japan.
During the recent earthquake, Sendai received various types of support, which was a major source of power. Some support was in the form of personnel from other cities (total of 19,000) and supplies, which was based on a mutual-support agreement concluded by 20 major cities in Japan in order to provide support requested by a city damaged in a disaster that could not sufficiently implement emergency measures on its own. There was also the legally-required dispatch of fire fighters, doctors, and nurses, and the dispatch of personnel from throughout Japan to aid in the recovery, which was based on various agreements including ones in several industries.
Plans – In addition to promoting measures similar to previous ones, Sendai will move forward with measures to prevent or mitigate disasters taking into consideration its experience during the Greater East Japan Earthquake. These measures will target various issues such as operating refugee areas in cooperation with residents.
Cooperating with citizens’ groups, etc.
• In order to further promote the activities of organizations operating in the local community such as independent disaster prevention organizations, people playing an active role in these organizations will be trained as local disaster prevention leaders. In the future, Sendai will promote these concrete efforts.
Revising the local disaster prevention plan
Revisions will be made to the local disaster prevention plan, which as the most basic plan related to disaster prevention, stipulates items that the city and related organizations should handle, and the revisions will involve expanding parts of the plan that promote not only a response by the government but also self-help and efforts by local communities when a disaster hits. The revisions made because of the response to the recent earthquake will be completed by 2013. Priority will be given to issues that are directly related to the safety and peace of mind of residents, such as evacuation from tsunamis; provision of supplies; operation of refugee areas; support for living at refugee areas, such as how to handle evacuees who cannot return home; and education. This will be reflected in the local disaster prevention plan, other manuals, and response measures.
Strengthening the disaster prevention abilities of various organizations
• Improving the local community’s ability to prevent damage from disasters
Sendai will promote the active participation of women and the young and work to train local disaster prevention leaders through its own program.
The city will also provide support for various activities including conducting disaster prevention activities and creating disaster response mechanisms jointly with the local community, schools, and government, conducting disaster prevention training that is appropriate for the distinctive features of the community, and creating unique action manuals and hazard maps for the local community.
Moreover, Sendai will promote the development of face-to-face relationships among the community, schools, and local government during regular times and work to improve the ability of local communities to prevent damage from disasters in cooperation with various related local bodies such as neighborhood associations.
• Improving the disaster prevention abilities of corporations
Sendai provides support to companies and business entities in creating business continuity plans (BCP) so that they can improve their own abilities in preventing damage from disasters and in minimizing the impact of disasters on business activities. The city also promotes various other efforts such as disaster prevention education for employees and storing supplies.
Securing the budget for mitigating disasters
Sendai has secured the budget for undertaking activities related to not only facilities and equipment but also for training and disaster awareness education. This includes implementing earthquake-related measures for bridges, which play an important role in preventing disasters; developing urban infrastructure; undertaking seismic retrofitting of municipal facilities and private housing; implementing disaster prevention measures related to utilities necessary for daily life, such as water, gas, and public transportation; and raising awareness of disaster prevention.
Incentives for citizens to take steps to mitigate damage
Sendai has created a system of subsidies to promote various efforts including seismically retrofitting old wooden detached houses, whose ability to withstand earthquakes are a concern, and removing concrete-block walls, which may collapse if a large earthquake were to hit.
1. Seismically retrofitting detached wooden houses
During the 1995 Great Hanshin/Awaji Earthquake, wooden houses built to comply with pre-1981 building standards sustained major damage. Therefore, Sendai started to provide subsidies for the earthquake-resistance checks of detached wooden houses in 2002 and for seismic retrofitting in 2004. Additional aid is provided to certain groups of people such as the elderly and those with disabilities.
The following are the number of cases subsidies were provided up until the end of FY2011:
Number of earthquake-resistance checks: 4,751 checks at a cost of 709,501,000 yen (978 in 2011)
Number of houses seismically retrofitted: 1,696 houses at a cost of 903,201,000 yen (129 in 2011)
In terms of the number of houses that have received earthquake-resistance checks and have been seismic retrofitted and the budget allocated for these activities, Sendai is one of the top major cities in Japan. The goal is to raise the percentage of houses that have been seismically retrofitted, which was 83% in 2008, to 90% or more by the end of FY2015.
2. Removal of concrete-block walls
Many of the deaths during the 1978 Miyagi Earthquake were caused by concrete-brick walls collapsing; in 1980, Sendai, therefore, started to provide subsidies for projects to prevent these walls from collapsing, the first such subsidy in Japan. Following the 1995 Great Hanshin/Awaji Earthquake, Sendai examined around 47,000 concrete-brick walls facing public roads within the city between 1996 and 2003 and introduced the current system of subsidies from 1997 to cover some of the expenses necessary for removing concrete-brick walls that were determined to be dangerous due to concerns they may collapse during an earthquake. In order to ensure safe evacuation routes during a disaster, additional aid is given to the elderly.
Up until FY2011, subsidies were provided in 423 cases and totaled 33,223,000 yen (32 cases in 2011). In terms of both the number of cases and budget, Sendai is one of the top major cities in Japan. As of 2012, only 12% of the walls that had initially been determined to be dangerous due to concerns they may collapse during an earthquake still remained.
3. Subsidies for putting in hedges
On account of 1978 Miyagi Earthquake, a system was established to provide aid for removing concrete-block walls and replacing them with hedges regardless if there was danger the wall would collapse or not. In 1979, the system provided financing, but in 1986, the system was changed to provide a subsidy, and this system is still in operation today. The subsidy covers up to 300,000 yen for removing concrete-block walls (150,000 yen for removing the wall, and 150,000 for putting in hedges).
Sendai also supports measures undertaken by residents to mitigate damage from disasters, and these efforts include providing support to certain households (such as those with elderly who have difficulty evacuating on their own) for attaching devices to furniture to prevent the furniture from falling over during an earthquake. This was done to prevent death and injury.
2,724 cases (total number of households that received support for attaching devices between 2002 and January 2012).
Plans – Following the recent earthquake, Sendai doubled the budget for subsidies for earthquake-resistance checks and the removal of concrete-block walls, replacement to hedges, increasing the incentives for implementing measures to mitigate damage from disasters.
Sendai provides support to companies and business entities in creating BCPs so that they can increase their own ability to prevent damage from disasters and minimize the impact of disasters on business activities. The city also promotes various other types of activities such as disaster prevention education for employees, storing supplies, and installing emergency power generators.
Progress and achievements – Developing infrastructure to mitigate damage from disasters
Since the torrential rains of August 5, 1983 (see (2) of the main disaster risks (main previous disasters)), Sendai has examined comprehensive flood control measures in cooperation with the national and prefectural governments, moved forward with creating a city sewerage system that can handle once-in-a-decade torrential rains, and worked to reduce such damage.
The city has built storm drains and installed pump stations, which has increased the waste water pumping abilities of Sendai eight fold compared to 1986, the year the torrential rains hit. Efforts are being made to create a city that is resistant to rain from various perspectives, and these efforts include controlling the flow of rain water by storing it and soaking it into the ground and installing pumps and locating sandbags in areas at risk of flooding.
In addition, the city has undertaken repairs on various forms of infrastructure, such as core city rivers, as flood control projects to prevent damage, and worked to increase the safety of water controls on various levels.
2. Water system
As for the water system, Sendai has worked to minimize damage to water facilities and the impact on the lives of residents, and these efforts are based on its experience during the 1978 Miyagi Earthquake and lessons from the Great Hanshin/Awaji Earthquake. The city has made improvements to facilities in order to make the water system more resistant to damage from disasters, including seismically retrofitting facilities.
(1) Constructing and reinforcing water purification plants and water supplies
Water purification plants and water supplies have been improved to make them more resistant to earthquakes since these are important facilities for supplying tap water. The city is inspecting conditions at each facility and using the result of the inspections to systematically move forward with work such as reinforcing and repairing facilities.
(2) Using earthquake-resistant water pipes
Following the 1978 Miyagi Earthquake, Sendai has worked to minimize possible damage from easily-damaged pipes and decrepit pipes as much as possible by replacing them with pipes that have joints that are made from material resistant to earthquakes.
(3) Improving water management
In order to minimize or limit areas impacted by problems such as disruptions in the water supply and contaminated water and to make it possible to rapidly restore service, Sendai has broken down the city into numerous small blocks, which water is supplied to. In addition, the various water purification plants and reservoirs are connected to each other by main water lines (core water lines), and multiple routes for water to flow have been created so that neighboring blocks can share water with each other.
(4) Equipping water supplies with emergency shutoff valves
Water supplies have been equipped with emergency shutoff valves, and this makes it possible to secure water necessary for people and the recovery by having the shutoff valve automatically close in the event of a disaster to eliminate water loss from leaks.
(5) Installing emergency water taps on main water lines
Sendai has installed emergency water taps on large main water lines, which are highly resistant to earthquakes, making it possible to obtain an emergency supply of water directly from the water line. In case of a disaster, water trucks can be refilled and residents supplied with water by attaching connectors to the tap located under roads and parks.
(6) Installing emergency drinking-water tanks
Underground water tanks have been installed at sites such as schools and parks that serve as designated refugee areas. Under normal conditions, fresh water flows through the tanks, but if there is a disaster, a cutoff valve automatically closes, storing 100 m3 of water (a three-day supply of water for 10,000 people, assuming 3 liters of water per person per day). This water is used as a supply for residents.
(7) Installing equipment such as temporary water tanks
In preparation for disasters, the city has introduced water trucks, which are aluminum tanks that can be used to transform trucks into emergency water trucks, and temporary water tanks that supply water for emergency water distribution sites. If there is no water supply facility in the area, water is distributed at locations such as schools and parks, which act as water distribution sites.
3. City gas
In Sendai, city gas is supplied by the city, and the city has implemented various measures to minimize the impact of an earthquake or disaster.
(1) Using earthquake-resistant gas pipes
Taking into consideration the impact of earthquakes, Sendai uses sturdy steel pipes for medium-pressure pipes that carry gas under high pressure, and the pipes are welded together using a method that is highly resistant to earthquakes. Polyethylene pipes, which are highly resistant to earthquakes and corrosion, are used for low-pressure pipes. The Great East Japan Earthquake caused no damage to polyethylene pipes, once again proving their ability to withstand earthquakes.
(2) Installing spherical gas tanks that are also resistant to major earthquakes
There are eight spherical gas tanks for the supply area, and the tanks were designed and constructed to withstand a major earthquake, which involved developing earthquake-resistant designs that are based on a geological survey, placing the foundation in firm ground, and other measures. The city uses spherical tanks since they evenly distribute the pressure of the trapped gas and are resistant to wind, etc.
(3) Breaking the pipe network into blocks
When an earthquake hits, the supply of gas is turned off to heavily damaged areas in order to prevent secondary disasters such as fires and explosions. In order for residents in areas that have not been damaged to be able to continue to use gas, the pipe network has been divided into 12 blocks, and the gas supply is shut off to as few of blocks as possible.
(4) Installing seismographs
Seismographs have been placed in each of the 12 blocks. Sendai can rapidly respond to disasters since data on measured earthquakes and information on gas pressure is sent to the Gas Bureau’s control room and the gas supply monitoring system can not only continuously monitor the situation but also shut off the supply of gas remotely.
(5) Creating smaller blocks
If the supply of gas is shut off to a block to prevent secondary disasters, the block is divided into smaller units so that restoration operations can progress efficiently. Efforts are made to reduce the time necessary to restore gas by turning on the supply of gas to areas where work has been completed.
Plans – During the recent earthquake, utilities necessary for daily life, such as electricity (supplied by private power companies), water, and gas (supplied by Sendai), stopped functioning, which had a major impact on the activities of citizens and corporations. In addition to repairing facilities that were damaged by the earthquake, Sendai will work to develop urban infrastructure that is more resistant to earthquakes and disasters through various efforts so that facilities can continue to function to a certain extent even if damaged. These efforts include seismically retrofitting facilities when they are replaced, strengthening the sharing of tap water among water systems other than the city water system, bypassing the sewerage system (Sendai is undertaking this project), and having companies that run the utilities create business continuity plans (BCP).
In addition, there are plans to undertake new efforts in order to secure utilities for schools that function as refugee areas and the Sendai City Hospital that also functions as a disaster hub hospital for the Sendai area.
• Solar power generators (10kW) and storage batteries (15kW) will be installed at schools that also function as shelters during disasters (a total of 200 schools), creating a mega solar plant with a total capacity of more than 2MW and large storage batteries with a capacity of 3000 kWh by FY2015. This will reduce CO2 emissions, cut and reduce peak consumption during normal times, and store a certain amount of electricity necessary to operate lighting, communication equipment, and other devices at night.
• The new Sendai City Hospital that is expected to open in 2014will be supplied with electricity from two different substations and be equipped with filtration equipment so that underground water can be used as drinking water to ensure a three day supply of water in emergencies. As for city gas, gas pipes that have been evaluated by an independent body will be installed so that the supply of gas can be maintained even during a major earthquake, This stable supply of gas and a gas-powered cogeneration system to supply electricity and heat will make it possible for the hospital to secure and maintain operation of power generators during both normal and emergency use.
In addition, new infrastructure to prevent damage from tsunamis will be built to revitalize the east part of the city that sustained major damage from the recent tsunami (the Protect Lives From a Tsunami project). In particular, this will include the following efforts. (1) The main north-south road located approximately 1 km from the coast will be raised 6 meters so that it can also function as a levee and the coastal disaster-prevention forests, which prevent material from being washed away, will be restored on embankments. Sediment from the tsunami will be used to raise the road. (2) Efforts will be made to employ hills, buildings, and a car-only road that is around 3 km from the coast and runs north-south as shelters from tsunamis. (3) For areas that are expected to be flooded more than 2 meters even though various disaster prevention measures were taken (in general, the area to the east of the road discussed in (1) above—that is, the ocean side), safer housing will be secured through several efforts such as prohibiting the construction of new houses. For areas subject to relocation on account of these efforts, the city will use national government programs to aid in relocation and to build municipal housing,, with an expected operation start date in 2013.
Progress and achievements –
Sendai has ensured that school buildings are able to withstand earthquakes by undertaking earthquake-resistance checks and seismically retrofitting the schools because not only is it important to guarantee the safety of students but the schools also act as disaster refugee areas for the area. Therefore, Sendai completed seismic retrofitting on 100% of its schools by fiscal 2011, compared to a national average of 73% before the Great East Japan Earthquake (figures are based on a survey by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology). The city publishes the results of earthquake-resistance checks on its website.
In addition, each school created or revised its disaster response manual and established a school disaster response system. Taking into consideration the lessons learned from the 1978 Miyagi Earthquake, schools also continue to conduct evacuation training twice a year.
Sendai’s evaluation is that the Great East Japan Earthquake reconfirmed the importance and benefits of training as most children acted in a calm manner and local residents properly responded. No children who were on school grounds, including the three schools located along the coast that were hit by the tsunami, died in the disaster, and refugee areas fully functioned on account of the partnership between the local community, schools, and government.
For facilities such as medical facilities managed by the city, Sendai has ascertained progress in making the facilities more earthquake resistant, and various measures were systematically implemented, including seismically retrofitting facilities and attaching shatter-resistance window film. When the earthquake hit, all hospitals continued to function.
After the earthquake hit, Sendai City Hospital immediately started to provide emergency medical treatment and to accept those needing hospitalization 24-hours a day, and this included accepting ambulances even without prior notification. The Hospital was open for fourteen consecutive days following the earthquake, continued to treat general outpatients, and fulfilled its role as a disaster hub hospital.
In addition, the city continually received reports on the number of empty beds at each of the 15 main hospitals in Sendai, and the city established a system in which the Sendai City Hospital only accepted and treated the seriously injured by having other hospitals accept hospitalized patients with minor and moderate injuries.
Due to having prior earthquake experience, Sendai concluded a disaster support agreement with both Akita City Hospital (Akita-shi) and Yamagata City Hospital Saiseikan (Yamagata-shi) in December 2011 in order to create a mechanism to provide material and personnel support. The agreement covers support for both materials such as medicine and personnel such as temporary staff.
In terms of equipment and materials, Sendai has conducted numerous studies regarding various aspects including hygiene (water and toilets), livability of refugee areas (lighting, changing rooms for women, places to nurse children), food (cooking facilities and heat sources), and other (warehouses, emergency power supplies, handling pets, etc.), and the city plans to organize the issues that it should work on in the future.
Of those, efforts have already been launched related to several issues such as establishing independent outside warehouses, installing solar power generators and batteries at all elementary and junior high schools (around 200) to be used in case of a power outage, and undertaking construction necessary to use schools as water distribution sites during disasters. As for solar power generation, the solar power generators at all the schools will form a mega solar plant with a capacity of 2MW. This will not only ensure power during emergencies both at night and day but also be effective for shifting peak power consumption during normal times.
As for training and education aspects, disaster prevention training in the annual guidance plan for each year of elementary and junior high schools has been expanded. Various efforts are planned this year, including designating elementary schools that partner with core junior high schools as disaster prevention model schools, conducting studies of the ideal form of disaster prevention guidance plans and partnerships between elementary schools and junior high schools, and conducting joint disaster prevention training with local communities. In the future, this will be done at other schools and be reflected in the disaster prevention manual of each school
A new city hospital is being constructed and will open in 2014. There are plans for the hospital to have not only a seismic-isolation structure, which will make it possible for the hospital to continue to treat people even if a major earthquake hits, but also a rooftop heliport so that patients can be flown in from distant areas.
There are also plans to reinforce the hospital’s disaster prevention abilities in terms of facilities, and these efforts include supplying the hospital with electricity from two substations each using a different circuit in order to avoid a loss of power during emergencies as much as possible and installing filtration equipment so that underground water can be used for drinking water to secure a three-day supply of water in case of an emergency. To ensure a stable supply of gas even if a major earthquake hits, gas pipes will be used that have been evaluated by an independent body, a gas-powered cogeneration system will be installed to supply electricity and heat, and the hospital will use a power generator that can be operated during both emergency and normal times.
Furthermore, hospitals will have food and medicine stores—enough food to feed patients and staff three meals a day for three days and enough medicine for around two weeks.
Progress and achievements – Ensuring safety through checks of structures
Sendai designates certain areas as disaster/hazard areas in accordance with the Building Standards Act, limits construction in these designated areas, and works to prevent hazards due to construction in disaster/hazard areas. At the same time, the city ensures the safety of residential houses including low-income housing by systematically maintaining public housing.
Basic policy on land use
As for disaster/hazard areas that have a high risk of being damaged by tsunamis (coastal areas on the east side of the town), taking into consideration damage by the recent earthquake, Sendai worked out a policy in 2011 to ensure safer housing through various efforts including promoting the relocation of residents to safer areas.
Turning to mass relocation within Sendai, more than 1,700 households will be relocated, one of the largest mass relocation projects in Japan. For each coastal area on the east side of the city, residents can move to several areas inland (at the current time, 14 areas), which is a distinctive feature of the system. For many areas in other cities damaged by the disaster, the relocation site is fixed and all residents of an area move to the same place; however, Sendai created a system that allows people being relocated to move to any of various candidate inland areas where there is little concern of damage from tsunamis.
Ensuring safe housing
Relationship between depth of tsunami flooding and danger
• According to academic studies and research, the percentage of houses washed away increases if tsunami flooding is greater than 2 meters, and a study conducted by Sendai during the recent earthquake found similar results. Therefore, areas that are projected to be flooded more than 2 meters are designated as areas at high risk of sustaining damage from a tsunami.
(Areas targeted for relocation)
• In areas that are projected to be flooded more than 2 meters and are at high risk of sustaining damage even though various disaster prevention measures have been taken, Sendai will prohibit the construction of new houses or expansion of existing ones and ensure safe housing by promoting relocation to the west side of the city.
• Candidate areas for relocation are the Tago-nishi and Arai-higashi areas, which are being rezoned, and the Arai area that is expected to be rezoned. Other candidate areas include those neighboring the Sendai Tobu Toll Road where safety can be ensured through measures such as embankments. The destination will be selected taking into consideration the opinion of people being relocated.
• The burden of relocating was reduced by mainly making use of the national government’s disaster mass relocation promotion program but also through Sendai’s own support system.
• Sendai worked with residents by listening to their opinion on various issues such as the direction of development at the relocation area.
(Areas with certain restrictions on construction)
• For areas where sections are projected to be flooded by a tsunami more than 2 meters but there is expected to be little damage, such as buildings being washed away, Sendai has not prohibited the construction of new houses and expansion of existing houses but set certain restrictions in order to increase safety.
• In addition to examining evacuation facilities, Sendai created its own support systems for relocating households to safer areas and raising the ability of existing areas to prevent damage from disasters.
(Areas that are expected to be flooded less than 2 meters)
• There are no restrictions on construction since although the area is forecast to be flooded by tsunamis there is little risk of damage such as buildings being washed away.
• In addition to examining evacuation facilities, Sendai created its own support systems for relocating households to safer areas and raising the ability of existing areas to prevent damage from disasters.
• Sendai promoted urban development while taking into consideration improving the ability to prevent damage from disasters and maintaining the community.
Plans – As for areas that have a high risk of being hit by a tsunami, Sendai will secure safe housing through various efforts such as promoting the relocation to the west side of the city, which is safer.
Sendai will explain the policies and plans discussed above to local residents and confirm the intentions of residents. There are plans to move forward with the relocation of residents living in temporary housing or similar conditions.
Mass relocation also depends on progress in developing the area residents will be relocated to, and Sendai would like to work on the relocation project through FY2015.
Ensuring safe housing
(Building municipal housing )
Progress and achievements – Disaster prevention training at schools, etc.
Twice a year, Sendai conducts evacuation training at all elementary and junior high schools in the city assuming a disaster or fire.
Percentage of schools where disaster prevention training has been conducted:
Disaster prevention training in local communities, etc.
Sendai conducts integrated disaster prevention training once a year, and the training, which is held in cooperation with local communities, covers various topics including evacuating in case of earthquakes and tsunamis and preparing food.
In addition, local communities, centered on independent disaster prevention organizations and similar bodies, conduct various other types of training such as firefighting, rescuing people, evacuating, and meal preparation so that the various parties understand what should be done in an emergency.
Various other activities are undertaken to energize independent disaster prevention organizations, and these activities include training using a Disaster Imagination Game (DIG), a participation based simulation training activity, and creating disaster prevention maps for the area. Sendai provides support for these activities.
Actual disaster prevention training conducted by independent disaster prevention organizations:
1,727 times by 1,360 organizations (number of times disaster prevention training was conducted/number of independent disaster prevention organizations (FY2010)
Symposiums and events related to disaster prevention, etc.
Sendai holds symposiums and events on various topics related to disaster prevention and works to educate citizens about disaster prevention.
1. Disaster/fire Prevention Festival—This is an event for children where fire trucks are on display and related organizations set up booths to raise interest in disaster prevention. Before the Great East Japan Earthquake, it was held once a year since 2002.
2. Disaster prevention lectures—A specialist from a given field is invited to give a lecture on various topics. The lectures have been held once or twice a year since 1980.
2010 Tsunami Disaster Prevention Symposium
2008 Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Forum—30+ years since the 1978 Miyagi Earthquake
2007 Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Symposium—Earthquake countermeasures from a women’s perspective
Earthquake Preparedness Forum—99% probability that an earthquake will hit off the coast of Miyagi again
3. Mobile earthquake simulator—Sendai operates a mobile earthquake simulator to teach citizens, particularly children, about the danger of earthquakes. It is used in various ways such as being sent to events such as local disaster prevention training.
Plans – On account of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, around 106,000 people, 10% of Sendai’s population, had to live in refugee areas, which reconfirmed the importance of disaster prevention education and training during normal times. On the other hand, there are existing efforts, and self preparations and support within the local community that are extremely effective.
Taking into consideration these experiences, Sendai will promote efforts aimed at raising the ability of various parties such as the local community (including households and neighborhood association), corporations, and the local government to respond to disasters and making it possible for these parties to properly cooperate and respond when a disaster hits.
Conducting disaster prevention education through the schools
As for disaster prevention education at schools, in addition to what has been done in the past, Sendai plans on designating elementary schools that partner with core junior high schools as disaster prevention model schools, examining the ideal form of guidance plans for disaster prevention education and partnerships between elementary schools and junior high schools, and conducting activities such as joint disaster prevention training with the local community. In the future, the city will conduct these with other schools and reflect them in the disaster prevention manual created at the school.
Raising disaster prevention awareness in local communities and training
Sendai will create a manual that summarizes in easy-to-understand terms the operation of refugee areas so that they can be smoothly opened and operated by creating a common awareness among the operators of refugee areas (schools, etc.) and local governments. In addition, the city will raise the level of knowledge and skills, have parties play a central role in disaster prevention activities, work to train local disaster prevention leaders who promote disaster prevention measures that match the distinctive characteristics of the local community, and provide support for various other activities including conducting disaster prevention activities and creating disaster response mechanisms jointly with the local community, schools, and government and developing disaster prevention training and an action manual for the local community that is appropriate for the characteristics of the particular local community.
Raising the disaster prevention abilities of corporations
Sendai provides support to companies and similar bodies for creating business continuity plans (BCP) so that they can raise their own disaster prevention abilities and minimize the impact of disasters on business activities. The city also promotes various other types of activities such as disaster prevention education for employees and storing supplies
Progress and achievements – Sendai covers an area of 800 km2, which includes a diverse range of geographical features—hills and rural areas to the west, an urban area, and a rural area and seaside to the east. The city is surrounded by rich forests, which cover 60% of the city, and a rural area supported by ample water from the Hirosegawa River, Natorigawa River, and Nanakitagawa River. The city has been called the “City of Trees” since ancient times because of its abundant nature and greenery.
• The preservation of local nature including villages and their surrounding satoyama, agricultural land, and the sand beaches and tidal wetlands on the coast is fundamental from various perspectives such as preserving ecosystems, absorbing and fixing carbon dioxide, and maintaining a good water environment. In city planning, there are nature preservation zones and village/satoyama/rural zones. Sendai not only strives to preserve its valuable natural environment, water resources, rural environment, etc. but also has established systems to preserve the environment. This includes providing guidance on the use of land that gives priority to preservation of the natural environment, rural environment, and other areas by appropriately applying land use control ordinances when undertaking development projects.
• In addition, the design of the city makes it possible to accomplish the following in terms of reducing damage from disasters and risks to the environment.
• Coastal disaster-prevention forests protect agricultural hinterlands, houses, and other items by dissipating the energy of tsunamis, high tides, etc., capturing salt in the air and fog droplets, preventing the diffusion of sand, slowing the wind, and other effects.
• In the rural areas on the east side of the city, trees that surround houses (igune), which are unique to Sendai and have been passed down for more than several hundred years, act as disaster-prevention groves and windbreaks that mitigate the impact of winds from the sea and seasonal winds that blow from the northwest. They also make the living environment more comfortable by controlling humidity and recharging underground water.
• The expansive rural areas to the east of the city help control the environment. They alleviate the urban heat island effect by conducting winds that blow from the ocean to the city.
• Preserving the extensive, low-lying alluvial plain to the east as agricultural land maintains the land’s ability to hold water and reduces the risk of flooding during heavy rains, etc.
• Within the reconstruction plan for the east parts of the city that sustained damage from the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, coastal disaster-prevention forests are being restored through a national government project. When restoring these forests, embankments are being repaired using the sediment deposited by the tsunami, and these forests are being restored to not only prevent damage from wind-borne sand and wind but will also mitigate damage from tsunamis (roots of the trees will be made deeper so they are less prone to topple over).
Progress and achievements – Introducing an early reporting system
1. Sendai has created the City of Trees Disaster Prevention Information Mail Delivery Service, which sends emergency information such as that on earthquakes and tsunamis, weather, evacuation advisories and instructions, in the form of mobile phone messages and releases the same information on the Sendai City website.
2. As for tsunamis, the city has created a Tsunami Information Transmission System that employs the exterior public-address equipment used for the disaster administration wireless communication system along the coast. Before the Great East Japan Earthquake, 50 of these devices were installed along the coast. Sendai uses this system to announce tsunami warnings, evacuation advisories, and evacuation instructions.
3. In addition, related departments have introduced emergency earthquake flash reports and are prepared to respond to disasters.
This system was used during the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the Tsunami Information Transmission System was effectively used for announcing tsunami warnings and evacuation information.
Conducting disaster prevention training
The Disaster Response Headquarters regularly conducts disaster simulation exercises, centered on related city departments. This year, comprehensive disaster prevention training also included simulation-type training, centered on related departments and bureaus.
Plans – In addition to steadily promoting existing efforts, Sendai will move forward with additional efforts from the perspective of communicating disaster information to citizens.
Introducing an early warning system
Taking into consideration the Great East Japan Earthquake, Sendai will develop other methods to communicate emergency information to citizens, expand the scope of current methods, and develop plans so people are sure to escape, particularly for evacuations due to tsunamis.
1. Sendai plans to create a system making use of the emergency flash report mail service (service provided by mobile phone carriers for sending announcements to mobile phones in a targeted area)
2. There are plans to not only restore the Tsunami Information Transmission System’s exterior public-address equipment that was damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake but to also install new public-address equipment in areas that were flooded by the recent tsunami but did not have such equipment.
Progress and achievements – During the process of creating the reconstruction plan, consideration was given to the opinions of citizens, including those impacted by the disaster, since the draft proposal stage. In particular, a survey was conducted of citizens impacted by the disaster (2,903 in May 2011), corporations (732 companies for the first survey conducted in April 2011, and 1,000 companies for the second survey conducted July-Aug. 2011), and farmers (585 households April–August 2011). In addition, the mayor held a roundtable discussion with residents impacted by the disaster (109 in May 2011) and created the proposal Sendai City Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Vision two and a half months after the disaster in the end of May 2011.
After that, Sendai took several steps related to the reconstruction vision. A meeting to exchange opinions on reconstructing the city, which 660 people participated in, was held in June 2011. In July 2011, a survey was taken of the neighborhood associations, which played a central role in disaster prevention and operating refugee areas in the area when the earthquake hit, and 57 neighborhood associations submitted responses. In August 2011, an explanatory meeting on the tsunami simulation was held for the residents on the east side of the city, which was hit by the tsunami, and 2,760 people attended the meeting. The city solicited the opinions of people afflicted by the tsunami and moved forward with work proposed in the interim plan (the interim plan was completed in September 2011).
More than 2,000 opinions were received regarding the interim plan. The opinions were obtained in various ways including explanatory meetings by the Mayor held in October and November 2011, which 520 people attended, public comments, 508 of which were received in September and October 2011, reports by experts, 382 of which were received in September and October 2011, and explanatory meetings regarding developing the east area hit by the tsunami, which 3,120 people attended in September and October 2011. The city worked to reflect these opinions in its plans.
Using the draft proposal Sendai City Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Vision as a starting point, the city set the reconstruction plan in November 2011 after the Sendai City Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Review Board, made up of residents and experts that debated the plan (the board met ten times July-November 2011). The city Assembly also held frequent debates on the plan. The plan was created in an extremely short time by bringing together numerous opinions.
Plans – The plan includes 10 symbolic projects referred to as the Reconstruction Projects for the Million Citizen’s Project. These projects, particularly the first three, give the greatest priority to the feeling of residents impacted by the disaster from the perspective of ensuring the physical infrastructure for disaster prevention and victims, safety, and a social and economic safety net. These projects are the (1) Protect Lives From a Tsunami, a tsunami disaster prevention and housing construction project; (2) Build the Foundation for Safe Homes, an urban residential reconstruction project, and (3) Support Individual Livlihoods, a project to rebuild the lives of those impacted by the disaster. (see the attached Sendai City Earthquake Disaster Reconstruction Plan).
As for project (1) above, in order to revitalize the east part of the city, which sustained major damage from the tsunami, Sendai will move forward with raising the main road so that it can also function as a levee and developing evacuation measures in the case of tsunamis. In areas that are projected to be flooded more than 2 meters by a tsunami even though numerous disaster prevention measures have been taken, the city will ensure safer housing by taking various steps such as prohibiting the construction of new housing. Along with these measures, it is expected that 1,700 households will have to be relocated inland (the largest mass relocation project in Japan), but residents from a single coastal area will be able to move to one of several inland locations (currently there are 14 locations). For many areas damaged in other cities, households from a single area are relocated to a set location, but Sendai has been creative in developing a system so that households being relocated can choose where they want to move from several candidate inland sites with little risk of being hit by a tsunami.
As for other projects, Sendai will take into full consideration the opinion of residents impacted by the disaster and promote concrete reconstruction projections that are based on this plan.
The documents have been posted as received. The designations employed do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory or area, or of its authorities.
- Attachment Sendai City EQ Disaster Reconstruction Plan 2012
- Signed certificate
- Hazard & Vulnerability
- Nomination form Sendai City 2012
- Application Letter Sendai City 2012