Innovative Disaster Responses: Model Approaches from Japan’s 3/11 Disaster


In the aftermath of the tragedy of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the world witnessed with admiration the resiliency of the Japanese people. Indeed, although full recovery may still be years or decades away in many regards, there is a great deal to be learned from the way in which the people of Tohoku responded to the disaster. In particular, Japanese civil society, which had not been a particularly strong force in Tohoku in the past, stepped up to play an active role in the recovery and reconstruction process. Not only did their efforts become an important supplement to the work of the national and local governments, but in many cases, these organizations have been impressive innovators, finding new and unique ways to address the various issues that have emerged in post-disaster communities.

JCIE’s Dr. Atsuko Geiger, Kaede Kawauchi, and Serina Bellamy analyzed four particularly innovative projects that can be emulated in the future when disaster strikes elsewhere around the world:

Providing care for seniors—Mederu Car Grocery Delivery Project of Sankaku Planning Iwate

Reviving the economy and employment in local communities—Kamaishi Kitchen Car Food Trucks, organized by the Fuji Social Welfare Foundation and Kamaishi Platform

Facilitating funding for local nonprofits—Sanaburi Foundation, the first community foundation in Tohoku

Addressing post-traumatic mental health—Tohoku Outreach Mission organized by the Japan Medical Society of America, the September 11th Families’ Association, Rotary Clubs, and the Arnhold Global Health Institute at Mount Sinai

The report also briefly introduces several other model responses to 3/11.

Full Report [913kb]

Related resources:

Slideshow: 10 Innovative Ideas from the 3/11 Response

Strengthening US-Japan NGO Partnerships On Humanitarian Responses: Lessons from 3/11
JCIE | 2015

Bringing People Together: Assessing the Impact of 3/11 on US-Japan Grassroots Exchange