Introduction to IRIDeS


The International Research Institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS) was established at Tohoku University after the catastrophic 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. IRIDeS brings together the knowledge of Tohoku University and pursues the most advanced research on natural hazards, disaster and disaster risk reduction, aiming to contribute to on-going recovery and reconstruction efforts in the disaster-affected areas and to being a world center for disaster science in cooperation with research organizations from many countries. Based on the lessons from the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku, IRIDeS is making efforts to shift paradigms in disaster risk reduction to cope with catastrophic disasters caused by natural hazards. Towards this goal, IRIDeS is developing practical research on disaster risk reduction that proposes solutions for disaster risk reduction and is contributing to sustainable and resilient societies both in Japan and overseas.

Mission of IRIDeS

Disasters can be understood as the following phases in the disaster cycle: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. IRIDeS pursues disaster science that explores events within each stage of the above cycle and integrates lessons and findings across the cycle. The mission of IRIDeS is to: apply knowledge derived from research on the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster and its recovery and research findings on disasters worldwide to society; construct studies to build social systems in which humans and society can respond wisely to changing disasters, overcoming hardships and applying lessons learned; and systemize these studies as practical disaster research and build their academic value.

Vision of IRIDeS


While enhancing cooperation with local governments affected by the 2011 disaster and making concrete contributions to the reconstruction of the disaster-affected areas, IRIDeS aims toward the construction of society that can cope with risks of evolving natural hazards and the development of new technologies for disaster risk reduction and their implementation to society. The efforts of IRIDeS do not only focus on reducing the impact of disasters, but also on fostering a disaster culture in which people and society can wisely prepare for and respond to disasters and pass on lessons learned while recovering from the damage and social instability caused by disasters, and also incorporating this culture into society. Towards this vision, IRIDeS focuses on the following:

  1. Examining and analyzing global-scale disasters caused by natural hazards.
  2. Reconstruction projects that incorporated disaster risk reduction based on the lessons of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
  3. Innovating studies to support disaster-affected areas, and reevaluating the disaster cycle and recovery from historical viewpoints.
  4. Enhancing disaster-resiliency and performance of multiple-fail-safe systems in regional and urban areas.
  5. Establishing medicine and medical service systems towards catastrophic natural disasters.
  6. Designing disaster-resilient societies and developing digital archive system to pass on the lessons from previous catastrophes.


In 2007, Tohoku University established the Research Group on Disaster Prevention and Management (Secretariat: Center for Northeast Asian Studies), an interdisciplinary research team from 19 fields focusing on disaster risk reduction in local communities. At the time, it was forecasted there was a 99% probability that a major earthquake would occur in the Tohoku region off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture within 30 years. In order to prepare for this earthquake, researchers from various fields of specialization at Tohoku University, including science, engineering, geology, psychology, informatics, economics, medicine, and history, came together to promote practical research on disaster risk reduction through collaboration between the arts and sciences.

In the midst of the activities of this group, the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami occurred. In addition to the loss of functions of coastal municipalities due to the massive tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident caused environmental pollution, reputational damages and disruptions to people's lives. In response to the disaster, more faculty members participated in the activities of the group, not only to conduct multi-disciplinary studies on the disaster, but also to support local reconstruction efforts. Having expanded the group, IRIDeS was established about one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

April 2012 IRIDeS was established at Tohoku University, with Prof. Arata Hirakawa as its first Director
April 2013 Satellite office was established in Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture
April 2014 Prof. Fumihiko Imamura became the second Director of IRIDeS
November 2014 The IRIDeS building was opened in the Aobayama New Campus
March 2015 The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction was held in Sendai City Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 was adopted
April 2015 IRIDeS and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established the Global Centre for Disaster Statistics
April 2016 Project Area and Unit System Started
November 2017 The First World BOSAI Forum was held
November 2019 The Second World BOSAI Forum was held