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Enhancing Trilateral Disaster Preparedness and Relief Cooperation between Japan, U.S. and Australia: Approaches from Various Civil-Military Perspectives

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Research project

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On March 11 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake struck Northeastern Japan followed shortly after by a powerful tsunami. The disaster caused devastating damage along the Pacific coastline and more than 20,000 people were declared killed, injured or missing. Through this tragedy of the Great East Japan Earthquake hereafter the 311 Earthquake, there are many important lessons on disaster preparedness and relief that can be learned the implementation of such lessons is an important way to ensure that the victims of the disaster did not lose their lives in vain. In the aftermath of the 311 Earthquake, various internal and external actors including governmental organizations, militaries, non-governmental organizations NGOs, private companies, and international organizations participated in the disaster relief activities. Yet this disaster was not an isolated event, but occurred amid a spate of recent large-scale calamities in the Asia-Pacific region. These include the Indian Ocean Tsunami of 2004, the Pakistan Earthquake of 2005 and the Sichuan Earthquake of 2008. Relief activities were similarly conducted in response to each of these disasters by various internal and external civil-military actors. However, it became apparent through these relief activities that there were difficulties in coordinating and unifying the efforts of the various actors, which in turn hampered the provision of swift and efficient support to survivors. The effectiveness of the UN Cluster Approach1 is widely acknowledged yet it takes considerable time to activate this approach. Therefore the question of how relief activities can be rapidly and effectively conducted by various civil-military actors in response to a disaster continues to remain a challenge. The members of this research project recognized the necessity for more effective international disaster relief cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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