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Urgent Statement regarding Kumamoto Earthquakes

April 20th 2016

I would like to express my condolences for the people, family and their friends affected by the Kumamoto Earthquake. The pain of those who lost their lives from the disaster and the emotional and physical suffering of those who are in continuing earthquakes and aftershocks are immeasurable.

The RQ Disaster Education Center, in which many JSOEE members are involved, started rescue operations by closely working with nature schools in the Kyushu area. The past experiences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in 2011 indicate many difficulties to be expected in the disaster relief and restoration process of the Kumamoto Earthquakes. Proactive commitment in disaster relief and restoration activities is needed now.

As a society that deals with ‘education’, children’s education in disaster is one of our key focuses. Currently, many local schools are used as the shelters for the evacuees, and this situation may take a long period of time. Securing or creating spaces for continuing education is one of the important issues that we need to tackle. In the midst of it all, we also have to consider the socially vulnerable people in the disaster affected areas, including the elderly, people with disability, and foreign immigrants.

There are still high risks of big earthquakes in Japan in the future, considering Kumamoto earthquakes occurred within only five years after the Great East Japan Earthquake. It has been pointed that the Kumamoto Earthquakes may trigger further big earthquakes in the other areas. There is an urgent need to enhance further disaster preparedness education. Searching for more appropriate disaster preparedness education from environmental education perspectives could be one of the key tasks that we need to pursue.

It is very hard to foresee our future now. Yet, we have searched for possible solutions for achieving sustainability till today. In this very situation, we need to deepen our thoughts, make appropriate decisions, and take proper actions for the disaster that we are experiencing now.

JSOEE is discussing possible ways to support the victims of Kumamoto Earthquakes. At this moment, we are planning to organize a space where society members can share the information with each other. Based on member’s suggestions and requests about what support is needed and what support can be provided by the members, we would also like to organize the environment to enhance the supports by the members.

I expect many proposals by JSOEE members on what we should do and their active participation. All these can increase our power of action, I believe.

Tetsuo Suwa
President, The Japanese Society of Environmental Education (JSOEE)

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