The second stage of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University
The Tohoku earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean at JST 14:46 on March 11th, 2011, and the following tsunami left the region devastated. Some twenty thousand people became victims. Not only houses/buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged, but also the coastal environment/ecosystem and landscape were widely impacted and severely changed. Furthermore, due to the explosion of the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Dai’ichi, many people from a large area around the reactors have been forced to evacuate from their homes. This is the multi-phase-disaster after the 2011 earthquake, which had never been experienced before.
Immediately after the disaster, Tohoku University established the institute for disaster reconstruction and re-generation research in April 2011, with the aim to lead the revitalization of Japan. One of the major projects was to initiate and enhance international research of Disaster Science. As a result, on April 1st, 2012, a new research institute named the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) was founded to study the mechanism which caused this earthquake and tsunami to enable more reliable evaluation of hazards and damage. Scholars from thirty-eight fields who shared high ideals and a strong sense of urgency, came together in 7 divisions from both the humanities and the natural sciences, to participate in a multi-disciplinary and multi-layered approach to lead the studies of disaster science. IRIDeS brought together the expertise of Tohoku University to contribute to the reconstruction and rebuilding of disaster-affected areas.
We have also worked to provide relief aid within the disaster area, and to gather accurate information about the damage caused. We initiated a Digital archive project in collaboration with several partners in order to compile date, information, and records related to the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami.
Moreover, we have cooperated with research institutions both within Japan and overseas to actively promote the most advanced research in the world in several fields of natural disasters; the digital archive with the Reischauer Institute of Japanese studies at Harvard University, the disciplinary science of disaster with the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, and disaster risk reduction with IRDR of University College London, and remote sensing for disaster management with DLR (Deutsches Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt). Furthermore, the international program hub, APRU-IRIDeS multi-hazard program, was initiated to harness the collective capabilities of APRU (The Association of Pacific Rim Universities) for cutting-edge research on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and recovery, share strategies to cope with campus disaster risk, and contribute to international policy making processes on DRR.
We contribute to share what we have learned with the world at large, and together, we work to build a world that is disaster resilient. We cannot achieve this alone. I ask you for your support and cooperation in this endeavor.
Fumihiko Imamura, Prof. and Director of IRIDeS. April 1st, 2014.