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Managing Complex Emergencies in Complex Times – Lessons from Japan

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Fukushima_I_NPP_1975-1024x1024.jpg
Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant 1975. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan

By Andrea Rezzonico

Anticipating and preparing for complex and simultaneous emergencies is critical as we move further into the 21st century. The coming decades will be characterized by significant disruptors including climate change, biological hazards, natural disasters, rapid technological change, growing geopolitical tensions, an increase in fragile states, and persistent economic shocks. These issues will not exist independently of each other – they will intersect and very possibly lead to cascading effects that strain entire systems. 

Over the last several years, the Council on Strategic Risks (CSR) has investigated this rising convergence of security risks, breaking down silos, pulling threads through previously unlinked issue sets, and establishing pathways along the way. This work, as well as lessons from the extraordinarily destabilizing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has underscored that current emergency preparedness programs do not sufficiently consider how crises can overlap in time or cascade from one into another. A particularly harrowing example of this was Japan’s horrific Triple Disaster of 2011. The event serves as a warning, but Japan’s actions since then also serve as a potential model for the world on managing complex crises, including the one we’re in at the moment. Japan learned (and is arguably still learning) from the crisis, and so can we.  


Typhoon Haigibis: Lives Lost and Security Infrastructure Damaged

Hagibis_2019_both_landfallsBy Marc Kodack

Typhoon Hagibis came ashore in eastern Japan this past weekend resulting in multiple deaths while damaging or and destroying buildings and other infrastructure. It is the most powerful storm to hit Japan since 1958U.S. military installations reported no deaths, but U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi, approximately 21 miles south of downtown Tokyo, incurred “structural or water damage to more than 20 structures.” Cleanup efforts continue across Japan. (more…)

Release: Japan’s Economy is Exposed to Significant Security Risks from Climate Change, Experts Warn

Japanese Industry in an Unstable Climate_Cover_May 2019Climate Change Lessons From the US Military_For Japanese Industry_Cover_2019_5Tokyo, Japan, May 30, 2019 – Japan’s economic competitiveness is threatened by a heavy reliance on imports from countries that face multiple climate change-exacerbated security risks, and Japan can take lessons from the U.S. military’s vulnerabilities to climatic changes, according to two new Japan Series reports (here and here) from experts at The Center for Climate and Security, a think tank in Washington DC with a team and Advisory Board of senior military and security leaders. The reports come ahead of Japan’s hosting of two G20 ministerial meetings on Trade and Digital Economy (June 8-9) and Energy Transitions for Global Environment for Sustainable Growth (June 15-16). (more…)

Japan Continues its Leadership on Climate Change and Security

Japan Scenario_Nakane_2018_07_12

Kazuyuki Nakane, Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, makes opening remarks at June 12, 2018 conference on climate change and fragility in Tokyo –  Photo by Climate Change Division of Japan’s Foreign Ministry. 

By Shiloh Fetzek, Senior Fellow for International Affairs

On July 12, the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs held the “International conference on climate change and fragility in the Asia-Pacific region — Interlinkage among science, regional studies and business from the perspective of long-term climate risks” in Tokyo, which the Center for Climate and Security contributed to and participated in. The conference built on earlier Japanese leadership on climate security, stemming from its 2016 G7 presidency and leadership of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Climate Fragility Working Group, which also resulted in a report on climate security issues in Southeast Asia and the Pacific presented at 2017 G7 meeting in Italy and last year’s COP.

The July event was aimed at taking the climate security discussion to the Japanese corporate and finance sectors, illustrating the long tail of risk to Japanese commercial interests in the Asia-Pacific. These include the climate vulnerability of concentrated manufacturing centers in Southeast Asia, as evidenced by the November 2011 floods in Thailand that disrupted supply chains for automotive and electronic components, resulting in a global shortage of hard drives. (more…)

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