Greetings from the Director

Exploring Natural Disasters and Contributing Disaster Risk Reduction
Worldwide Beyond National and Cultural Borders

Fumihiko Imamura Director and Professor of IRIDeS, Tohoku University

The International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) was founded approximately one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake. It is Tohoku University’s newest research institution-focusing on both the revival of Tohoku disaster-affected areas and disaster risk reduction worldwide.

On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and its resulting tsunami devastated the Pacific coast of Tohoku and much of East Japan; an estimated 20,000 people lost their lives in the disaster. The magnitude of this tragedy, however, was then amplified by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Because of this, The Great East Japan Earthquake, followed by nuclear meltdowns of Fukushima, quickly became an unprecedented compound disaster with potential long-lasting effects the likes of which has been rarely seen throughout human history.

In 2007, Tohoku University organized the Research Group on Disaster Prevention and Management. This group of researchers gathered in order to conduct multidisciplinary disaster prevention studies, prioritizing consideration of countermeasures for a forecasted earthquake that may soon occur off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture. However, the reality of the 2011 disaster far exceeded all recorded predictions—leaving the group unable to adequately respond. Consequently, Tohoku University decided to greatly expand the research group to learn from the disaster and to further develop research and activities on disaster risk reduction—resulting in the establishment of IRIDeS in April 2012.

There are currently around 100 researchers in IRIDeS from various fields: the humanities, sciences, social sciences, engineering, and medicine; all in order to create a more refined study of disaster science. The group’s measurable research achievements include improved clarification and understanding of the 2011 disaster damages, examination of large-scale earthquake and tsunami mechanisms, and construction of disaster digital archives. IRIDeS also provided its full support to the third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which was held in Sendai, Japan in 2015. Since then, IRIDeS has been promoting the implementation of the "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030", adopted at the UN Conference. We are making efforts in forging links with industry, government, academia, and citizens in Japan, and other countries, to work together on various research and activities for disaster risk reduction.

We will continue our best efforts in contributing to the revival of disaster-affected areas in Tohoku, and the disaster risk reduction around the world. Your continuous support is greatly appreciated.