Independent Administrative Institution
National Research Institute for
Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED)
Beginning of "The Third 5-year Plan" Period
From its geographical and geological environment, Japan has long been suffered from natural disasters such as earthquake, tsunami, volcanic eruption, landslide, flood, heavy snow, and so on. Especially, the earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tohoku on March 11, 2011 caused unprecedented disaster with nearly 20 thousand killed or missing people.
Since the mitigation of natural disaster is one of the most important policy issues of Japan, all the people in NIED are pushing hard research activities under the basic objective of our institute, "Realization of the society resilient to natural disaster".
NIED was established in April, 1963 motivated from the disastrous Isewan typhoon in September, 1959 which brought the death of more than 5,000. Thereafter, NIED was reborn from the national research institution to the Independent Administrative Institution in April 2001.
Originally, the Independent Administrative Institution is defined as an institution which efficiently and effectively promotes programs that should be securely done from a public viewpoint, but are not always needed to be executed by the government itself and cannot be expected to be serviced by private enterprises. Research on disaster prevention is just the work of such a type. In these 10 years, NIED has conducted public services through basic research and development regarding disaster reduction as well as dissemination of research results for the benefit of society.
As to the seismic hazard, two big projects proceeded utilizing the nation-wide seismic networks and 3D Full-scale Earthquake Testing Facility (E-defense), both of which were constructed after the disastrous Kobe earthquake in 1995.
In the project using the seismic networks, we have found various slow phenomena along the inter-plate boundary in the southwest Japan, which may control the generation of mega-thrust earthquakes in the future. The dense seismic network is also contributing to "Earthquake Early Warning" system which has started its full-scale operation in October 2007.
On the other hand, in the earthquake engineering project using E-defense, we have accumulated experimental data for various kinds of structure and analyzed them to validate and improve the earthquake proof designs.
As to the volcanic hazard, we have started the construction of basic observation system for major active volcanoes in all over Japan. We are also going to establish data collection and sharing system for the purpose of monitoring at Japan Meteorological Agency as well as providing the data for volcanic researches at universities.
As to the meteorological disasters, we have accumulated radar technology to watch severe rainfall, which is now applied to build up warning systems for urban floods and landslides.
As to the snow and ice disasters, steady efforts were continued to develop a warning system for snow avalanche and drifting snow, whose pilot operation is conducted in cooperation with local governments and road management offices.
Adding to the researches to study hazards of each category, we are also promoting a social science project, which aims to make an environment to provide risk information to individuals and local communities.
Based on the fruitful outputs in the past 10 years, we have stepped into "The Third 5-year Plan" period in April 2011 through the negotiation with Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology as well as Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Synchronizing with the turning point, we have changed the organization of our institute to make more efficient system. Research sector was reorganized into 3 Departments, i.e., Monitoring and Forecast Department, Experimental Research Department, and Social System Department, while management sector was simplified by spinning off the planning section.
Further, the Outreach and International Research Promotion Center was newly established to strengthen public services and international activities.
In April 2011, "The 4th Science and Technology Basic Plan" was also launched from the Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office, Government of Japan. In the plan, the role of science and technology is highlighted to challenge the important policy goals, one of which is "Realization of Rich and High-quality Life".
As a strategy toward that goal, it is emphasized the importance of monitoring and forecast of natural disasters, as well as the promotion of disaster reduction researches. Along this strategy, we would like to push forward our research activities with the fresh mind under "The Third 5-year Plan". We would very much appreciate if you would give us the warmest and kindest support.