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Expert demands better tsunami infrastructure

Japan: More infrastructure spending by Japan could have lessened the impact of this month’s deadly tsunami but the government has become too reliant on low-cost measures such as handing out warning maps, said Professor Fumihiko Imamura, Tohoku University’s Disaster Control Research Center.

According to Prof. Imamura, Japan should invoke Western-style urban planning to keep houses and hospitals further from the coast as it rebuilds from the crippling disaster. Japan’s cash-strapped government has moved away in recent years from costly projects such as increasing the height of sea walls to budget measures like producing maps that show which areas are at lower sea levels.

“We cooperate with the government on tsunami countermeasures, but there has been less financing and sometimes there isn’t enough for the construction of structural measures,” Imamura added. “Now, the government’s focus has shifted to non-structural measures, because they are cheaper.”

Imamura, a scientist who has been studying tsunami for nearly 30 years, uses computer models based on historical data to predict the speed and size of the deadly waves caused by earthquakes.

Source: Reuters