Citizen Participation in the Disaster Reconstruction Process: Lessons from the Great East Japan Earthquake
In Japan, the central government make a decision about the authority in charge of an overall disaster reconstruction and the budget planning, whereas local governments are in charge of making and implementation of a business plan for a reconstruction of each local municipalities. Therefore local governments play an important role to organize citizen participation in order to realize the reconstruction that fits reality.
It has yet to be shown by Ara Cho, as decentralization reform and citizen participation system in Japan produce the socio-spatial inequality after the Great East Japan Earthquake (Cho 2014). However, it remains to be elucidated how to local government and community operate the institution about citizen participation in the disaster reconstruction process.
I have been doing a fieldwork on three tsunami-affected sites in Miyagi prefecture past four years: Higashimatushima-city, Natori-city and Onagawa-town. I have investigated social processes of making and implementing a reconstruction plan, and citizen participation. The findings from my fieldwork are as follows;
First, citizen participation is based on organizing residents at the community level. Secondly, traditional community organization(such as neighborhood organization, Industrial association) contribute to organize residents especially in the emergency phase. Thirdly, As the disaster phase move, local government and community organization need to change the previous participation frame in order to ensure residents representation and policy legitimacy.