Nobuyuki Asai of SGI speaking at an event held at the World Bosai Forum | Photo Credit © Seikyo Shimbun

1st April 2023

Disaster Risk Reduction Events in Sendai, Japan, Mark 12th Anniversary of Great East Japan Earthquake

  • Humanitarian relief

In March 2023, various events involving diverse stakeholders commemorated the twelfth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and promoted the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), which the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction adopted in Sendai in 2015.

One such event, the third World Bosai Forum, took place in Sendai on 12 March 2023. Since 2017, the biennial World Bosai Forum has brought together representatives of academia, civil society and business to learn and find better DRR strategies.

SGI hosted a discussion session at the forum, titled, “Approach to Psychosocial Recovery After Catastrophic Events,” which was attended by about 20 people. Fabienne van Eck, Regional Program Manager of Musicians Without Borders (MWB) in the Middle East, joined remotely and introduced MWB’s programs and methods that aim to create positive change by developing connection, resilience and a sense of safety through music for those affected by war, conflict and displacement.

Nobuyuki Asai, Director of Sustainable Development and Humanitarian Affairs of SGI, spoke about the “Bonds of Hope” concerts conducted by the Soka Gakkai Music Corps, a continuing initiative contributing to the recovery of the heart in disaster-affected areas in Japan.

Dr. Takeo Fujiwara of Tokyo Medical and Dental University then introduced the results of his long-term research interviewing children who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake and observing the changes in their psychological state over the 10-year period following the disaster. His research found a higher suicide rate among children who experienced the disaster and a weakened sense of self-control. Dr. Fujiwara emphasized the importance of continuous psychosocial support for children affected by disasters.

The Youth Division of the Soka Gakkai in Tohoku (a region in northeastern Japan) organized a separate session on 4 March titled “Promoting the Recovery of the Heart through Music,” as part of the Sendai Bosai Mirai Forum. This is an annual event held locally that aims to share the lessons learned from the disaster and develop a broader network of those involved in DRR efforts.

In the session, Hiroyuki Teraguchi, representative of the Soka Gakkai Music Corps, introduced the “Bonds of Hope” concert series. Producer Keiichi Shigano then shared his understanding of the value of such activities and the role of art, including music, in DRR. Soka Gakkai Japan plans to continue the concert series in other disaster-stricken areas of the country.

Lastly, the youth of Soka Gakkai hosted a seminar in Sendai on 18 March, with Dr. Sébastien Penmellen Boret, Associate Professor at the International Research Institute of Disaster Science at Tohoku University, as the speaker. He emphasized that people-to-people ties in local communities play a significant role, especially in times of disaster.