chapter  1
18 Pages

Planning for the Unplanned

THE GREAT HANSHIN EARTHQUAKE of January 17, 1995 was a signal event in the history of urban crises. Not only was it Japan’s most deadly and destructive natural disaster in over seventy years, it also raised disturbing questions about existing hazard management and post-recovery planning that had been regarded as among the most effective in the world. Despite decades of attention to the goals of hazard reduction by Japanese governments, industries, and citizens’ organizations, over 6,000 residents of the country’s second-largest metropolitan area were killed, about 60,000 were injured, and large parts of the Kobe-Osaka urban region experienced heavy damage and disruption. Fires took hold rapidly and burned out of control, structures and lifelines that had been designed and built to hazardresistant standards gave way, emergency management operations failed to live up to expectations, and recovery programs dragged on well beyond their anticipated termination dates (Mitchell 1999, 1).