The Best Lecture on Natural Disaster Mitigation

  Yesterday I attended a panel discussion of two experts on the disastrous earthquake that might hit metropolitan Tokyo in the near future. This was held as a lunch meeting at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ). After Powerpoint presentations of each expert, Q & A session followed.

  The panel are Professor Kimiro Meguro of Tokyo University (second left in the above photo) and Professor Yoshiaki Kawata of Kansai University (second right). For the announcement of this event, visit the following website:


  The first lecture was by Dr. Kawata, Dean/Professor at Safety Science Department of Safety Management, Kansai University.

  I was not happy about Dr. Kawata's bald statements. For example, his prediction on the upcoming big earthquake was too specific (His one and the only assumption of the big earthquake to similar to the 1855 Ansei Great Earthquake which hit Tokyo directly from underneath during the Edo period) that occur in 201X. How dare did he use the word "201X", implying it occurs by 2019, without showing any evidence or scientific data at all?  What if the next big earthquake is similar to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake (epicenter is located several tens of km offshore to the south of Tokyo) or the 1703 Genroku Earthquake (with offshore epicenter that generated a tsunami that hit small and then-poorly-populated areas of Tokyo along the river months)? Other possible sources/types of potentially disastrous earthquakes for Tokyo have been suggested by so many other scientists, notably after the 3.11 Tohoku Earthquake, and many new/updated models have been presented at the Japan Geoscience Union (JpGU) annual convention at Makuhari (Chiba), Japan this week. We have not only Known Unknowns - so many of them, but also Unknown Unknowns.   


  The good thing was that during the Q & A session, Dr. Kawata mentioned that how little is known about earthquakes -- their mechanisms and behaviors -- even by scientists and other experts, while he calls himself the leading expert in earthquake and tsunami research.


  The second lecture by Dr. Kimiro Meguro, director of the International Center for Urban Safety Engineering at the University of Tokyo, was brilliant and totally eye-opening, even to geoscientists like me. In contrast to Dr. Kawata's lecture mentioned above, Dr. Meguro's superb lecture can be expressed in three words:


Expect the Unexpected.


  According to Dr. Meguro, there are so many possible scenarios for any natural disasters or other safety issues, including the nuclear power plant accident, and it is the Imagination Capability that makes the difference in disaster mitigations. Such power can be easily trained for school (including K12), general public, and corporate/government levels. While we cannot stop natural disasters to happen, we can significantly reduce the damage, by increasing public awareness and educations.


  Over the past decade, I have attended many lectures on natural-disaster mitigation (not only earthquakes, but also tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, etc)., including the keynote lectures at the international academic conferences such as the American Geophysical Union (AGU) annual conventions, as well as press conferences, notably after 3.11. Nonetheless, the lecture by Dr. Meguro was the best lecture on natural-disaster mitigation, way superior to other lecturers both in the content and the delivery skills. His proposal was supported by ample statistical data and case studies, practical for public from an individual level, via community/corporate level, to the government (local to international) level.


  After the Q & A session, I had a chance to talk with Dr. Meguro. I asked him if he has a website so that some materials related to his lecture is available in English. He was thinking about it for a while, and said that he could not think about it right now. If he could find one out of his extremely busy schedule, he might contact me. If so, I will place the link in my blog.


  I would like to attend his lecture again ASAP. It was so motivational, and a bliss. Thank you so much, Dr. Meguro!




Posted on Friday 25 May 2012