Malaysia to learn from Japan’s disaster experiences


To strengthen its preparedness for natural disasters, Malaysia will start a project to use the expertise Japan has accumulated over the years.

The Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), a Kuala Lumpur-based college that provides Japanese-style engineering education with assistance from Japanese universities, including the dispatch of teachers, will establish a master’s course next September to teach disaster management.

With support from the University of Tsukuba and Kyoto University’s Disaster Prevention Research Institute, the course will cover advanced measures related to disasters, and will be aimed primarily at government personnel.

Malaysia suffers natural disasters such as flooding and landslides caused by torrential rain nearly every year.

Flooding from late last year until early this year was one of the worst-ever natural disasters in the country. It forced the evacuation of over 200,000 people and left more than 20 dead.

In view of the serious damage, the Malaysian government decided to set up a disaster response center to train specialists, carry out disaster research and work on related development.

Under the government policy of learning from Japan, known for its highly acclaimed disaster preparedness and response, the center will be created at MJIIT as Malaysia’s main facility for disaster response research.

The institute expects that disaster response personnel from the national and local governments will be the main participants in the master’s course. The course will teach disaster management know-how and specific measures, including preparatory efforts, immediate response in the event of a disaster, and recovery and reconstruction work.

Students will also have an opportunity to take part in a two-week study program in Japan.

To gain a better understanding of initiatives taken in Japan, program participants will attend university classes here, exchange views with personnel working in Japan’s national and local governments, and take a firsthand look at disaster-afflicted areas.

“Malaysia has high expectations of learning Japan’s expertise on disaster preparedness and response, while Japan has the knowledge and know-how that live up to the expectations,” said Naoki Umemiya, 42, an official in the Japan International Cooperation Agency who assists MJIIT. “Contributing to human resources development (in Malaysia) is very meaningful.”