Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 27, 2011

Japan: Strategic lessons being learned

Filed under: Preparedness and Response,Risk Assessment,Strategy — by Philip J. Palin on May 27, 2011

This week two more steps were taken to assess the cause of the cascade of consequences in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake-and-tsunami. Both signal some interesting strategic assessments.

Tuesday the Japanese cabinet put in place an expert panel to review the Fukushima nuclear emergency. It will be chaired by Yotaro Hatamura an expert in failure.   In an interview with Reuters, Kenji Iino a colleague of Hatamura offered,

“While final conclusions must wait for the probe, it appeared the utility’s first fatal error was its failure to take steps to prevent an accident whose risk of occurring was low but whose consequences were huge.”

The utility, known as Tepco, has said that the deadly combination of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting massive tsunami was “soteigai” — beyond expectations.

But a review of company and regulatory records by Reuters showed Japan’s government and the utility repeatedly played down the danger and ignored warnings.

The probability was small and I think they didn’t properly calculate how big the damage would be if it happened,” Iino said.

Hatamura’s investigation will look not only at the causes of the accident but the response by Tokyo Electric and the government, both of which have been accused of bungling their handling of a disaster which nearly three months on poses a continued threat to the environment and health.

An inability to think outside the box when the unexpected strikes can make things worse, Iino said.

“If there is someone on the ground who can make the right judgment, that’s fine. The problem is when there is no one who can make that call,” he said.

“People’s jobs have become narrower and more fragmented and there are fewer who understand the big picture.”

An entirely separate United Nations study has apparently drawn some similar conclusions. According to the Kyodo news agency, drawing heavily on a United Nations report released this week:

The March 11 killer tsunami that hit the Tohoku coast following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdowns revealed the fragility of Japan’s infrastructure, according to a recent U.N. report on natural disasters.

The report describes Japan as a country whose infrastructure collapsed in a way more closely associated with less-developed countries and from which lessons can be drawn.

“The earthquake, its aftershocks, the tsunami and the nuclear emergency illustrate what a synchronous failure looks like: a multisectoral system’s collapse,” says the 2011 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction.

It also describes how the disaster disrupted “critical sections” of Japan’s power grid, including the power supply needed to cool the spent fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and how backup systems were disabled, thereby resulting in the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

“The full consequence of the trauma and costs will not be known for years to come,” the report says. “However, in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, it became evident that even in this highly sophisticated and well-prepared society, the impact of physical hazards on infrastructure can quickly lead to outcomes normally associated with poorer countries: large-scale food and water shortages, shelter crises and logistical collapse.

The 2011 floods in Australia, the earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier this year and Japan’s latest disaster serve as a “reminder that developed countries are also very exposed,” the report says.

The March 11 disaster additionally highlighted that there are “emerging risks and new vulnerabilities associated with the complexity and interdependency of the technological systems on which modern societies depend,” it says. MORE

About two weeks ago I was talking to a long-time professional with an extensive network of emergency management contacts across the United States.  “Japan is already old news, nearly forgotten,” he said shaking his head.  “We will not learn from their failures.  Unless we experience the pain ourselves, we never pay attention.”

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Pingback by Lessons Point Out (and maybe learned) from Japan disasters « Recovery Diva

May 27, 2011 @ 5:46 am

[…] posting by fellow blogger, Phil Palin, on Homeland Security Watch, May 27, 2011: Japan Strategic Lessons Being Learned. from → Uncategorized ← Joplin, MO — many reasons for the devastation after the […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 27, 2011 @ 7:10 am

Japan will be an important event forever! BUT it must be closely studied and researched. Not sure how much access the Japanese will give to foreign researchers.

Comment by Donald Quixote

May 27, 2011 @ 10:59 am

Unfortunately, I must concur that we often do not learn until we experience it ourselves. Lessons learned from our own experiences have a rather limited shelf-life to appreciate and implement. Lessons learned from others often fade away in the twenty-four news cycle. A smart person learns from his\her failures. A brilliant one learns from others’ failures.

Short Attention Span Theater is giving Homeland Security Theater a run for its money.

Earthquake preparations

The curse of complacency

Americans are neither shaken nor stirred
Apr 7th 2011 | LOS ANGELES |

SOONER or later, America will suffer an earthquake as devastating as the one that has wreaked havoc on northern Japan. It could happen next week, next year or next century; it has happened on numerous occasions in the past, and will happen again. The best that can be done is to prepare for the inevitable, adopting measures that will help emergency teams rescue the victims and allow the recovery to proceed as rapidly as possible. But the chaos that ensued in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina shows how unprepared America can be for disasters.


Scientists Express Concern About More Big Japan Quakes

Steve Herman

Significant aftershocks continue to shake Japan, more than two months after the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that triggered massive tsunami, leaving 25,000 people dead or missing and creating a catastrophe at a coastal nuclear power plant.
Five tremors in excess of magnitude 5.0 on the Richter scale have shaken Japan just this week. But scientists are warning that the largest expected aftershock has yet to hit. And, new, devastating inland quakes can also be expected.


Comment by William R. Cumming

May 28, 2011 @ 6:14 am

SONY corp in deep distress from earthquake!

Comment by The Girdle of Truth

May 29, 2011 @ 3:05 pm

Do you know why the Colorado River flows the in the direction it does? Teutonic plates and the tilt towards the west will eventually result in another catstrophic “rattle and roll” of the western part of the US and are we prepared? Com’on who’s kidding who?

We have a tough enough time just reacting to a tornado and a thirty mile swarth of death and destruction through our heartland by Mother Nature or the infamous Katrina where our weaknesses were at least we can take our hats off to the US Army Crp of Engineers for the frtification efforts they have achived since Katrina, however where were the intellectuals, the planners, those well knowing that the possibility of Katrina could be real and doing something prior to such devastation.

Since this is a Judeo-Christian nation and it is Sunday morning as I am soon to be enroute to my Sunday Greek Orthodox Church service, let me suggest that We all turn to Biblical scripture to truly get a grasp of the reality of our changing environment as we are suspended in space like other plantes and solar systems and if only we can think outside the box, the reality that not everything or everyone revolve around our little world…we are a humanity so dependent on one another as never before and instead of utilizing the benefits of such, we are always on the cusp of raod rage, billigerent at a moment’s notice…

The objective of truth in God’s words and the deceit and dsstruction the objective of Lucifer, it is our individual conscience, our willingness to see beyoond ourselves and demand from those we have “entrusted” to demonstrate clarity, to understand that serving self-agenda has eroded our beloved nation’s ability to protect our good people, the most charitable….and those who have always looked to our great nation and wnderful melting pot of citizens – Americans – as the Beacon of Hope to those so oppressed, just as we fled the King and today see little difference for the taxation without representation we left behind is now replaced with “taxation with misreresentation” as politicians care little for our heritage and our future.

Bureaucracy and politicizing, the special interests of the few, the corporate and the charade depicted daiuly by the “beltway boys” have weakened us so and never mind record breaking tornado activity or the Worcester tornado which struck when neighbor helped neighbor, rather than walking away briskly.

We will have a major earthquake event especially predicted in the western US and We are unprepared in every way. We have failed to wear the “Girdle of Truth” is so many ways that we now are at great peril!

The truth is not that we amass our energies and challenge the regime leading Libya, but We must gain reality and understand that We must stop Syria from ruthless cold blooded murder against civilian, nodifferent than in Libya..We blinked when ehran lkeft a helpless and brave woman protestor alone mudered by the “Brutes of Tehran” allowing her rich Persian blood to drip onto the streets of Tehran and We have failed blatantly in the last months if in fact intel reports cite missile launchers being erected in Venezuela which brings the Monroe Doctrine into play and the necessity for us to be prepared, to wear our “Girdle of Truth” spken about by John as men who have integrity and the passion to act….

What makes you think that We are prepared for any disaster on the scale of the earthquake of Japan. Are our buiilding codes stringent here in Boston or in NYC to withstand anything as powerful. I think not!

We must face the truth. Yes the teutonic plates from Pacific and the western US will most assuredly cause devastation, yet given the ineptness, the lack of trust people throughout the nation feel towards Congress, towards a “Goldman Sachs” administration who promises jobs, jobs and more jobs and now nearly $2 trillion in more deficit, truth in reality, the distortion and denial of truth, ur unwillingess to stand up and strap our “Girdle of Truth” around our waste and challenge Tehran and its funding of missile launchers in Venezuela for instance and new evidence that Tehran played a role in the 911 attack on Anmerican soil requiring per oath of office that America retaliate against Lucifer…vowing to rid the world of men who choose such dastradly act and remind all that without peace, without holiness, no man shall see the Lord, however we are obligated to stand forth with sword in hand against those who pewrpetuate evil doings and if in fact We as a nation portray our willingness to strike Lucifer and his soldiers, to stand up against evil, we will be spared much of which today is whispered among our Christian-Judeo children fearing our own government, record sales in small weapons for the distrust is becoming more apparent from local, to state to teh federal government who has failed us for we do not lead in safe child births, we do not lead in education and America’s prosperity has turned to bankruptcy in both monetary and morality. Are we prepared? No.

Can we still strap on the “Girdle of Truth” and willingly stand against the numerous challenges whether in preparedness or taking our sword and slashing the loins who those seeking our demise and despite factual reality, evidence, our response is to send our community organizer to Cairo and appease those who will eventually cut off our heards as depicted by television.

Strap on your “Girdle of Truth” and be prepared. Organize and fund what will make us strong to defend against intruder. Never mind passing in the middle of the night, a Bill to spend $20+billion to support Palestinian and invite them here to this country to live…We cannot take care of our self, our wn children now becoming more and more undernourched and special needs budget cust and the same of orphanges all with God witness —

Never mind Japan and the lessns we can learn from these people. We would never stand in line and wait soo patiently and help oone another as food and water dispersed and if it were many of us just as we see such road rage, we would as seen in Katrina, step over one another and take all for ourselves – We are so unprepared, We have had eight (8) sitting Presueents and 19 Congresses and wqe still do not have a National Energy Policy.

Japan will eventually join an alliance formed by China to strengthen the Pacific Rim. No matter what takes place in japan, despite differences, Japan and China will sign numerius agreements and beyin wrking much closer than ever befre. A new currecny will be founded in the Pacific Rim.

As an int’l “commodities” trader, I have watched in awe vessels laoded and enroute daily stockpiling 50+ years of inventory of essential metals, coal, iron ore, soya beans and other foods from every continent enroute to China, to Japan and throughout the Pacific Rim and those eastward besiege one another, impose upon another their religious perspective and enslavement from generatin to generation picking up stone in one hand making judgement on another stoning a woman in the street with cell phone in the other hand taking pictures of one God’s children murdered by sinners, by those whose souls have been cast to the devil and We as a nation s unwilling to use our might stand steadfast agsinst these dastardly deeds. Here we have discussions w/the Taliban, AQ and Hamas and for this weakness, we will be tested in far many more ways until We as a Christian nation talk with Chritian virtue which also requires strapping the “Girdle of Truth” around our waist and ridding the world of the vile nature of those seeking our demise and having no value for scripture…

We are so, so unprepared and unless we repent and unless we stand with fortitude, we will continue to play in the hand of Lucifer!

We need to truly demand from DHS and FEMA, from the exexcutive branch too the local building inspector laws, stricter building codes, etc. for the “big one” will occur and all hell will break out for We cannot after decades even institute a US Energy Plan, never mind organize ourselves in preparedness for anything more than what we now strive to handle daily.

Many of us love this country, however despise those especially elected officials and their political hacks who take such advantage of position and abuse power.

Can our nuclear power plants withstand a 9.0+ earthquake? What about the real possibility that tsunami wave moving towards us on the east coast could very well inundate the eastern seaboard…

My suspicions and those others seniors, the core of our Republic and its US Constitution and Bill of Rights has been besieged by the special elitist interests to the extent that We have lost face, the strength to stand against those who abuse the system and care little for anyone else –

The Japanese people are truly resilient and very respectful and caring about one another as seen when watching CNN and Fox News. We see little similarity in our populace who have little sensitivity to other, little tolerance for any disruption in their Life!

“Unless we experience the pain ourselves, we never pay attention.” Let us hope we never experience any such pain for our society is comprised of entities hoding trillions, yes trillions in federal reserve notes, not dollars backed up by silver or gold, just plain ‘ol printed paper as written – federal reserve note – where manipulation of both monetary stability and governmnet itaself have placed not only our great Republic in peril, but humanity who deserves far better, yet fails itself to demand accountability, transparency, listens to Hank Paulsen, “Mr. Barney” et al when asked to whom, where the stimulus monies – supposedly lost – end up, some 750 billion of these fed notes used as a global reserve currency which will be inevitably replaced as we as a nation and people fall further in decline –

1st June new hurricane season and predictions of many storms. Let’s hope their course takes them far out to sea. Unfortunately, this may not be the case and just as we have seen the world turn their cheek to Haiti, where so many still live in tattered tent some 18 months later, let’s pray that inclement weather will not hamper even the little which is striving to revive Haiti in what I am hoping will eventually be exporting crop and deriving revenues, a project in drip irrigatin I am committed to achieving as I represent wastewater and water purificatioon project development as well as permanent manufacture of housing for the island to withstand the might blows of Mother Nature in the future!

God Bless America!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 30, 2011 @ 11:58 pm

So the first real fallout from event of March 11th is political?

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