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Published on March 14th, 2013 | by EJC

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Report – ‘Connecting The Last Mile: The Role Of Communications In The Great East Japan Earthquake’

It’s been exactly 2 years since Japan, the island country in the Far East, found itself in the middle of a mega-disaster in March of 2011.

On the occasion of the two year anniversary of this triple disaster, Internews Europe, a leading, international media organisation recently published a report entitled ‘Connecting the Last Mile: The Role of Communications in the Great East Japan Earthquake‘  to which the European Journalism Centre partnered as the lead contributor. With support from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the report investigates how communities in the most disaster affected areas (i.e. the Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures) were informed about the earthquake and tsunami, and looks at what communication channels were used the most for gathering information pertaining to everyday life, getting situational updates, and confirming the safety or death of people’s loved ones. The goal of the report is to identify what worked well and what did not during the 3.11 Japan quake. It also aims to give recommendations that international humanitarian communities and media organisations can keep in mind when preparing themselves for future natural and/or man-made disasters.

There are five main focus areas of this report that should not be ignored:

  1. The Early Warning System that is operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency
  2. Coverage of the mainstream media outlets, with a particular focus on nation-wide TV and newspapers
  3. Local initiatives including community radios, (hyper-)local newspapers and camp newsletters
  4. Digital media and social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Ustream, Google’s Person Finder, and crisis mapping
  5. Post-disaster projects aiming to preserve the memory and identify the lessons learned from the disaster
The report includes an analysis on the various aspects of communication used that aims to facilitate further discussion about how the relevant stakeholders can improve the sharing of information and quality of communication with disaster affected communities when unexpected scales of natural disasters occur. It is recommended that one take a closer look at the case studies on local media initiatives in the Miyagi prefecture, where people suffered the most from the tsunami. Lois Appleby from Crown Agents and the UK DFOD’s Conflict Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE) and the main author of this report conducted interviews and took part in extensive ground research with the local media outlets and relief agencies.

 

You can also download the full report in English here, and the Executive Summary in Japanese here.

 

Photo:  REUTERS/KIM KYUNG-HOON, COURTESY THE THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION – ALERTNET (as indicated in the report)

 

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