|Nov 14, 2011||CONFERENCE|
Some say Japan's safety technology is still world class. But what has been learned from the March 11 disaster?
The biggest failing behind the Fukushima disaster was not one of technology, but of the authorities and their response, said Japan's Vice Minister of Trade and Industry Keiro Kitagami, at the opening of the G1 conference on November 3. "Japan's safety technology is still the world's best," he said.
Later at the conference, the Crisis Management panel looked at the tragedy through a wider lens. What has been learned from March 11? Indeed, how much worse than the "worst case scenario" should any nation plan for?
Posing the question was the session moderator, visiting RAND Corporation fellow and former Cabinet secretary Kotaro Tamura. The first panelist to answer was James Bartis, Senior Policy Researcher at RAND Corporation. The company consults for the US government on man-made and natural catastrophes, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.
"That's the wrong question," Bartis told Tamura. "What you should be asking is ‘How much can I spend, and how should I spend it?'" He emphasized the importance of disaster-response affordability and efficiency. In other words, value for your crisis-management dollar (or yen).
Technology can save money, said Satoru Nishikawa, director at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. He described household gas cut-off devices, earthquake activated bullet-train brakes, and other automated systems that remove human error from the equation.
Andrew Morral, also of RAND, expanded on Bartis's theme, stressing the need to cultivate rapid reaction. He said this might be helped by such programs as the "policy [role playing] games" that RAND conducts for government and management. "But you can never plan for a specific disaster," he said. "Every time we see a disaster, we see how terrible we are at predicting the future."
He advocated flexibility and "divergent thinking," to build systems and teams of personnel he described as "robust" -- able to withstand the confusion of crisis situations -- and which are adaptive to change.
The key, said Bartis, lies in establishing disaster-response leadership that is separate from the political top -- which cannot stay constantly involved at ground level. "One rung below," he suggested. He also stressed the need to nominate "incident commanders" -- responsible people at the scene, whether in the home, the village, or the metropolis.
|G1 Global 2011|
|G1 Global 2011: Rebuilding Japan 3/3 (Video)|
|G1 Global 2011: Rebuilding Japan 2/3 (Video)|
|G1 Global 2011: Rebuilding Japan 1/3 (Video)|
|G1 Summit 2012|
|Vision and Action to Recreate Japan-4|
|Vision and Action to Recreate Japan-3|
|Vision and Action to Recreate Japan-2|
|G1 Global 2012|
|New Models of Leadership – Japan and the World - 2/2|
|New Models of Leadership – Japan and the World - 1/2|