Uncovering the humanity and wisdom within the tragedy of Japan’s disaster responses to three major earthquakes


The Era of Great Disasters examines modern disaster response in Japan, from the changing earthquake preparations and regulations, to immediate emergency procedures from the national, prefectural, and city levels, and finally the evolving efforts of rebuilding and preparing for the next great disaster in the hopes of minimizing their tragic effects. This book focuses on three major earthquakes from Japan’s modern history. The first is the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake, which struck the capital region. The second is the 1995 Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, affecting the area between Kobe and Osaka. The third is the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck off the Pacific coast of the Tōhoku region, causing a devastating tsunami and nuclear accident. While the events of (and around) each of these earthquakes are unique, Professor Iokibe brings his deep expertise and personal experience to each disaster, unveiling not only the disasters themselves but the humanity underneath. In each case, he gives attention and gratitude to those who labored to save lives and restore the communities affected, from the individuals on the scene to government officials and military personnel and emergency responders, in the hope that we might learn from the past and move forward with greater wisdom, knowledge, and common purpose.

IOKIBE Makoto is Chancellor of the University of Hyogo and President of the Hyogo Earthquake Memorial 21st Century Research Institute. He is also Professor Emeritus of Japanese political and diplomatic history, Kobe University and Former President of the National Defense Academy of Japan. After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Professor Iokibe was appointed Chairperson of the Reconstruction Design Council in Response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, a government-established advisory panel of scholars and experts for formulating governmental reconstruction guidelines. Following the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, he served as Chairperson of the Expert Group for Reconstruction and Recovery from the Kumamoto Earthquake. Among his many publications, his volume Nichibeikankeishi (Yuhikaku, 2008) has recently been translated by the Japan Library and published as “The History of US-Japan Relations: From Perry to the Present” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).