Governors adopt Iwate declaration to boost Japan’s disaster preparedness and recovery

Kyodo

Governors from across nation met on Thursday in the city of Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, to adopt the Iwate Declaration, whereby they vowed to work jointly with the central government on measures to prevent natural disasters and rebuild areas devastated by earthquakes and torrential rains.

The conference is the first held in the area hit by the 2011 massive quake and tsunami following the tragedy, and comes as the nation is in the process of recovery from a series of more recent disasters, including the 2016 quakes in central Kyushu as well as massive flooding there this month.

“It is essential to come up with drastic measures against disasters which we face very frequently in our lives now,” Kyoto Gov. Keiji Yamada said on the outset of the two-day conference. He also serves as president of the National Governors’ Association.

In the declaration, governors pledged to “have sympathy for disaster-hit areas and continue support and communication.” It cited the relocation of the Reconstruction Agency from Tokyo to an affected area as an example of such support.

Key points of the declaration include improving education for disaster prevention and developing a system to foster leaders for building disaster-resilient towns as well as reinforcing houses and expressways against quakes.

It also called for the establishment of the disaster prevention agency which will take charge of disaster prevention, recovery and reconstruction.

In addition to the declaration, participating governors also proposed that the state hire officials who would specialize in disaster reconstruction and who could be dispatch to disaster-hit municipalities.

The governors urged the central government to take the lead in resolving the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

Regarding disaster prevention measures, the governors requested the state subsidize the cost of making housing more quake-resistant.

Among other measures, they urged the state to clearly explain how local governments should respond to evacuate residents in the event that North Korea fires a ballistic missile, and called for added efforts to prevent the spread of venomous fire ants.

On the second day, they were scheduled to discuss measures to combat population decline and the over-concentration of people in Tokyo, among other issues.