Environmental Risks of Living By the Sea, Memories of Coasts and Sea Walls

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Hiromi YAMASHITA, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan
This paper examines how the risk perception study of Slovic (1987) could be expanded to recent environmental discussions of risks facing communities rather than individuals. The original study has dealt with individual perceptions towards various risks, especially focusing on “dread” and “certainty” elements. However, it is clear that the difficulties of environmental risk negotiations as a group exist, and how “acute” a risk is (such as tunamis rather than sea level rise), how communities dealt with the particular risk in the past, and memories and relationship between villagers and their coastal environment influence discussions.

To investigate this further, examples of discussions around sea wall constructions will be introduced (coastal defense structures for reducing the damages of tsunamis). Sea wall structures have played a role to protect severe weathers along coastal areas of Japan since 1950s. At the same time, they have been discussed as burdensome legacies of concrete structures in coastal villages. The construction of further and taller sea walls has suddenly become one of the important agenda, just after the Eastern Japan earthquake devastated coastal villages in March 2011. Currently not only the eastern part, but numerous western and southern part of Japanese prefectures have plans to build sea walls surrounding their coastal lines.

Analysis of the community discussions and how people seem to be balancing between “uncertain”, “dread”, “acute” and group and individual risks, as well as existence of future concrete structures in the area will be drawn from existing secondary data and manuscripts of the meetings completed in the Northern part of Japan, as well as on-going public meetings in western parts of Japan for future sea wall constructions.