Democratization of Local Leadership--- the Role and Function of Local Governance in the Disaster-Processes of the Great East-Japan Earthquake and the Tsunami

Friday, July 18, 2014: 6:06 PM
Room: Booth 48
Oral Presentation
Masaki URANO , Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan

The gigantic earthquake of magnitude 9.0 which occurred on 11th March, 2011 caused tremendous damage to the huge coastal area around Northeast Japan. The tsunami was of historical record in terms of its height and area affected. As of the end of March, 2012, over 20 thousand people were reported as dead or missing related to this disaster.

Moreover, serious accidents at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants that happened sequentially had a great impact on the huge area. The catastrophic damaged communities had been in financial difficulties with a high percentage of aged people, revealing various types of precariousness in the social structure of the communities and the vulnerability individual resident groups have.

In terms of mitigation, temporary living, restoration and reconstruction processes, the role of local political leadership that could listen to requests and meet the demand of the residents on the one hand and that could negotiate with the central and prefectural governments in order to get necessary assistance to help people in the disaster areas on the other hand, is getting more and more important. Based on the in-depth interviews to local leaders of the hard hit areas we explore the role and function of local leadership and its effectiveness, as well as the condition on which they are doing well with these jobs.

Among the democratic countries Japan has a rather centralized political and social system with a strong central government in terms of budget-control, regulation of prefectural and local government system etc. Furthermore after the earthquake we experienced the change of governing party from the Democratic Party of Japan to Liberal Democratic Party, which seemed to mean that it is necessary to consider deeply the way of the political leader, not only at national level but also at local level.