The Economist, December 2021
Karashima Yukari sits before a colour-coded map. She points out homes that were inundated by floods in Saga prefecture in August, for the second time in two years. Ms Karashima, who works at the Peace Boat Disaster Relief Volunteer Centre, a non-profit, spends much time rushing to scenes of crisis, staying long after the television cameras have gone, scrubbing mould from wet walls and training residents to prepare for the next disaster.
There is plenty to keep her busy. Japan is a “department store of natural hazards”, says Nishiguchi Hiro of Japan Bosai Platform, a group of firms that develop disaster-related technologies. Few countries have been shaped so much by hazards and disasters. Besides earthquakes and tsunamis, there are typhoons, floods, landslides and volcanic eruptions. Japan has had to learn to live with risks, making it a laboratory for resilient societies. “The concept of resilience is key to what others can learn from Japan,” says Rajib Shaw, a disaster expert at Keio University in Fujisawa.
As the threat from natural hazards grows, from climate change-fuelled fires to zoonotic pandemics, the world must live with more risk. The countries that fare best will be the resilient ones. In “The Resilient Society”, Markus Brunnermeier, an economist from Princeton University, argues that “Resilience can serve as the guiding North Star for designing a post-covid-19 society.”