Greetings from the Director

We contribute to the creation and accumulation of disaster science the world needs, share our gained knowledge swiftly with others, and practice it locally and globally.

Shinichi Kuriyama Director and Professor of IRIDeS, Tohoku University

I am pleased to extend my greetings on the occasion of my appointment as Director of the International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University.

IRIDeS was established to learn from the lessons of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and to contribute to the recovery of the affected areas. From the outset, it brought together researchers and specialists in diverse areas, including engineering, science, humanities and social sciences, medicine, and disaster risk reduction, to cooperate across disciplinary boundaries in order to achieve these goals. Our mission is to contribute to creating knowledge in disaster science that the world needs, to share the knowledge gained with others swiftly, and put it into practice locally and globally. Now, more than eleven years have passed since the founding of IRIDeS. As the incoming Director, I am determined to continue to deepen disaster science with a long-term perspective, aiming at our most important goal: to help those who have been affected by disasters, including the Great East Japan Earthquake, and those who may be affected by disasters in the future.

I am a physician specializing in disaster public health. Public health is the science and practice of preventing disease and promoting the health of groups of people. In the aftermath of the 2011 disaster, I was engaged in relief activities in disaster areas. I have also led large-scale, medium- to long-term surveys on the disaster. Those study results have shown that people affected by the disaster still face adverse health issues. We will continue to address the problems in the affected areas, including those revealed by these studies.
     The goal of Public Health is to encourage people to lead healthy lives. I would like to apply its methodology to disaster risk reduction (DRR) to encourage citizens to actually practice disaster mitigation measures. Public health has contributed to a national health movement using various means, such as epidemiological surveys on health status, learning, legislation, and the establishment of healthy behaviors as part of public culture. Also, in DRR, I aim to advance people’s disaster preparedness and response with similar methods, including reaching out to those indifferent to DRR and those who have not yet put DRR into practice despite being aware of its importance. With the keywords “prepare, evacuate, and recover,” I wish to connect IRIDeS’s varied undertakings to the broader DRR movement.

Tohoku University is a “university that exists together with society,” and IRIDeS is an “institute that exists together with society.” Since the Institute was founded, we have worked to make our scientific knowledge available to those who need it through our website and post-disaster emergency debriefing sessions. As major disasters continue to arise across the globe, IRIDeS will continue to investigate their causes in cooperation with collaborating organizations and will provide accurate and valuable findings, and make recommendations based on the converged knowledge of disaster science.
     Meanwhile, to reduce the damage caused by disasters, it is essential to work on DRR before a disaster occurs. IRIDeS will continue collaborating with a wide range of people to build a resilient society before a disaster occurs.

At home, Japanese society faces severe risks of future disasters, including the Nankai Trough Earthquake, earthquakes in and around the Japan Trench and the Kuril Islands Trench, and the Tokyo Inland Earthquake. Also, we need to address the increasing severity of disasters due to climate change. IRIDeS will continue to work on the recovery of Tohoku and contribute to DRR both in Japan and abroad, as pressing social issues. We look forward to your continued support and cooperation.