The Headline You Won’t See

Posted by JM Ashby

"Strict Government Regulations Save Millions of Lives"

Everyone is focused on the damage caused by the Tsunami right now, so I would like to point out that the population of Tokyo is a very dense 35 million, and the strict regulations placed on construction by the government in Japan more than likely averted a massive loss of life.

More important still may be the efforts undertaken to educate the populace on what to do during an emergency. The final death toll is still unknown, but all signs indicate that it could have been much higher than it currently is.

Japan’s “massive public education program” could in the end have saved the most lives, said Rich Eisner, a retired tsunami preparedness expert who was attending a conference on the topic at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, Md., on Friday.

In one town, Ofunato, which was struck by a major tsunami in 1960, dozens of signs in Japanese and English mark escape routes, and emergency sirens are tested three times a day, Mr. Eisner said.

Initial reports from Ofunato on Friday suggested that hundreds of homes had been swept away; the death toll was not yet known. But Matthew Francis of URS Corporation and a member of the civil engineering society’s tsunami subcommittee, said that education may have been the critical factor.

“For a trained population, a matter of 5 or 10 minutes is all you may need to get to high ground,” Mr. Francis said.

"Massive public education program?" Sounds socialist to me!

Comparing the level of preparedness, and the current level of response, seen in Japan to that of say, New Orleans, leaves a lot of room for embarrassment.