The lesson to be learned from devastating natural disasters is how important it is to prepare for them before they happen, experts at a panel discussion organized by the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) stressed Tuesday.

Always a hot topic after the fact, disaster preparedness quickly loses its urgency and even over time is seen as a waste of money, according to Satoru Nishikawa, former deputy director for disaster preparedness and international cooperation at the prime minister's office.

"When a disaster happens, everybody yells, especially the politicians and mass media, that you have to do something. After two or three peaceful years, the government, especially the politicians, they tend to forget about it" because it does not really bring in cash, Nishikawa told an HPAIR panel discussion on risk planning in Asia.