• by Yuichi Ono
  • Founder And Ceo, World Bosai Forum


First of all, we pray for the repose of the souls of those who died in recent disasters, including Typhoon Faxai and Typhoon Hagibis, and extend our deepest sympathies to the many people affected.

Are these disasters due to the effects of climate change? Or have we again entered a natural cycle of strong typhoons like the 1950s and 1960s? Will this situation continue?

Remarkable progress has been made in forecasting typhoons. In fact, many local governments should have received timely and accurate warning information, including special warnings issued by the Japan Meteorological Agency, and taken the utmost precautions before the typhoons hit. It was also identified that associated flood hazard maps were quite accurate, matching those inundated areas. Then, what was the problem? How should we deal with such problems in the future? We plan to discuss these important topics together with the public because similar problems could happen in other countries.

The World Bosai Forum is an international forum on disaster risk reduction held in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, and in partnership with the International Disaster and Risk Conference (IDRC) in Davos, Switzerland, is organized by the Global Risk Forum. Domestic and international officials and experts from international organizations, governments, the private sector, academia, media and local citizens participate — yes, we welcome local citizen participation. The forum does not exclude them.

The IDRC is a renowned conference that has been held during even-numbered years in Davos since 2006, and the majority of its participants are disaster risk reduction specialists from Europe or nearby regions. In contrast, the majority of World Bosai Forum participants are from the Asia-Pacific area, and we aim to increase the number of participants, especially from developing countries. We also have many citizen participants from Japan. The forum aims at pursuing practical solutions in disaster risk reduction through lessons learned from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011 and other disasters from around the world. At the same time, the forum serves as a vehicle to mourn the nearly 15,000 victims of this disaster.

The subtheme of the 2019 forum is “Global Target E” in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. This target aims to achieve a significant increase in the number of countries holding national and regional disaster management strategies by 2020. We will share many detailed contents to seek better measures, which contain structural (hard), nonstructural (soft) and human-oriented (heart) measures. We will also share information on how to deal with climate change, which has become more serious in recent years, and how to apply advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence or “internet of things” technology as part of disaster risk reduction.

Bōsai is a convenient and traditional Japanese term encompassing a comprehensive concept from disaster risk reduction to reconstruction and recovery. The first World Bosai Forum in 2017 achieved great success, bringing together 947 participants from over 42 countries and more than 10,000 local citizens.

Sendai is the birthplace of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. We plan to host the forum in this sacred bōsai city in odd-numbered years. The forum would also contribute to accelerating disaster recovery in Tohoku. The city of Sendai will operate several study tours to tsunami-affected areas near Sendai during the forum. Further information is listed on the forum website.

Unlike other conferences, such as those organized by the United Nations, we will not negotiate with member countries and related stakeholders about submitted documents. However, we plan to develop a chair’s summary including major findings and common issues in terms of practical bōsai solutions shared during the forum, as well as some recommendations.

In the long run, we humans tend to forget about previous disasters no matter how severe they were. The 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake caused around 100,000 deaths, and it was not the first mega earthquake disaster in that area. People forgot about previous disasters. In Tohoku, around the same number of people became tsunami victims in 1896. These people had also forgotten previous disasters. How to remember — and not forget — about previous disasters is challenging, and at the World Bosai Forum we would like to tackle this challenge. While strongly determined to never repeat forgetting about such global disasters, we want to pass on, and not waste, our bitter experiences in Tohoku disaster areas to future generations and the world.

During the forum, associated events will be held at the same venue. One such event is the Sendai Bosai Future Forum organized by the city of Sendai (Japanese only) on Sunday, Nov. 10. This event will mainly address the Tohoku recovery as to attract a Japanese audience. The other event, held on Nov. 10 to 11, is The 10th Earthquake Technology Expo Tohoku organized by the firm, Exhibition Technology. This event will feature a number of bōsai-related exhibitions by the private sector (we have made requests to the organizers for English explanations). We look forward to your participation and contribution to this event.

Download the PDF of this World Bosai Forum Special

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.