AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 94

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Session 94: Out of the Ashes: Post-Crisis Recovery in Asia -Sponsored by The Japan Foundation, Center for Global Partnership

Organizer: Daniel P. Aldrich, Northeastern University, USA

Chair: Allen Leroy Clark, East-West Center, USA

Discussant: Allen Leroy Clark, East-West Center, USA

Disasters and war have regularly remade Japan and other nations in Asia. The 1923 Kanto earthquake reduced half of Tokyo to rubble and during World War II bombing destroyed much of the metropolis and many other highly populated cities as well. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki profoundly affected the nation’s willingness to use nuclear weapons, and the 1995 Kobe earthquake helped create a renaissance in Japanese civil society. Over the 20th and 21st centuries, Korea, Taiwan, and China have suffered from large scale catastrophes – including war, earthquakes, typhoons, and flooding – which have altered these nations in innumerable ways. These disasters – both man-made and “natural” – have strongly impacted not only the urban layout of much of East Asia, but also the way that Japan and other nations view themselves and the world. This panel uses a variety of methodological approaches from the field of social science to investigate how East Asia has managed, recovered from, and prepared for catastrophes over the 20th and 21st centuries. Aldrich uses detailed quantitative data from the 1923 Tokyo and 1995 Kobe earthquakes along with the 2005 Indian Ocean Tsunami to look at the ways that various types of capital – social, physical, economic, and human – have helped disaster struck neighborhoods rebuild. Kage uses a new prefectural-level dataset to show how mobilization influenced civil society’s recovery in Japan after World War II. Sawada uses a series of large-scale surveys to illustrate how households across Asia have responded to the financial pressures that accompany disasters. Kim uses urban cities in the Pacific Rim as a focus to understand ways that urban planning can build better resistance against future catastrophe. Drawing on economics, sociology, political science, and history, these papers illuminate the ways that Japanese citizens and the state have sought to rebuild and reclaim their lives after crises.

Japan's Civil Society Revival after World War II
Rieko Kage, University of Tokyo, Japan

How does civil society recover from the devastations of war? World War II was a dark time for Japan’s civil society. Large parts of Japanese civil society were repressed. Associations that managed to continue to operate during war often saw their activities crippled as members were increasingly drafted and/or as physical facilities of associations experienced physical damage. Drawing on original research of Japan’s civil society before and after World War II, this study shows that despite the hardships of a long and protracted war, Japan’s civil society recovered strongly after the war, although with considerable variations in the extent of recovery across different prefectures. The study argues that while occupation reforms provided an important precondition for promoting the recovery of Japan’s civil society, the reforms do not offer a full explanation. Instead, the experience of mobilization, coupled with prewar legacies of civic activities, shaped the extent to which civic activities recovered and subsequently surpassed prewar levels.

How do households cope with natural and human-made disasters?
Yasuyuki Sawada, University of Tokyo, Japan

People in the world face a wide variety of risks arising from health, weather, contract, and policy related shocks. Accidents, sickness, or sudden death can disable the head of a household or even an entire family. Agricultural production involves a variety of price and yield risks especially for small-scale, poor farmers in the semi-arid tropical areas in developing countries. Even for households in urban, industrial or commercial sectors, income fluctuates over time due to contractual shocks in business transactions. Macroeconomic instability, credit crunch, or recessions, which tend to generate harsh inflation/deflation and widespread unemployment, can also affect livelihood negatively. However, natural disasters, i.e., hydrometeorological, geophysical, and biological disasters, can generate the most serious consequences ever known. Recently, a number of natural disasters hit both developed and developing countries alike. We remember vividly that a huge number of lives were lost in the earthquakes in central Chile, Haiti, Sichuan province of China, northern Pakistan, and Hanshin area of Japan, the Indian Ocean tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina. In addition to disasters caused by natural events, there are increasing numbers of human-made disasters, which are defined as economic crises including growth collapse, hyperinflation, and financial/currency crises, or violence such as terrorism, civil strife, riots, and war. In this presentation, we will examine selective evidence on households’ risk coping strategies against natural and human-made disasters. First, we consider ex ante risk management and ex post risk-coping behaviors separately, showing evidence from earthquakes, and tsunami disasters, and economic crises. Second, we differentiate idiosyncratic risks from non-diversifiable aggregate risks which characterize a disaster. We also discuss feasibility of index-type insurance against natural disasters, which are often rare, unforeseen events. Finally, we investigate the role of self-insurance against large-scale natural and human-made disasters under which formal or informal mutual insurance mechanisms are largely ineffective.

Networks of Resilience: How Social Capital assists Post-Disaster Recovery
Daniel P. Aldrich, Northeastern University, USA

While both natural and man-made disasters regularly claim more lives than high-salience issues like terrorism, social science has been slow to provide concrete frameworks for understanding recovery. Why some neighborhoods in crisis-struck cities recover more quickly than others remains a critical but unanswered question. This paper uses neighborhood level data from several disasters across the 20th and 21st centuries – including the 1923 Tokyo earthquake, the 1995 Kobe earthquake, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – to illustrate the factors which speed up or slow down recovery. Much research and public policy remains focused on external factors – such as the levels of damage inflicted by the event, the quality of governance at local and national levels, and the amount of aid provided to affected communities. But initial findings have underscored that internal characteristics of neighborhoods are critical in determining long term recovery. More specifically, areas which have residents who are better connected to each other can better organize to rescue survivors, coordinate outside aid, and mobilize to rebuild. Further, communities able to link to organizations with power – whether NGOs, decision makers in government, or civil servants in relief agencies – can use these ties to speed up their recoveries. These findings are important because they indicate that a nonmaterial resource – social capital – may be as critical, if not more, than things such as wealth, education, governance, and so on. Finally, because experiments in Nicaragua and South Africa have shown that social capital – like other forms of capital – can be increased through local initiatives and outside interventions. As such, this paper provides concrete recommendations to NGO and government decision makers for increasing stocks of social capital before, during, and after disasters. In the end, social infrastructure – more than other factors – may be serve as the foundation for efficient and effective recovery.

Urbanization and Climate Change in the Asia Pacific Region: Cities as Stressors and Solutions
Karl Kim, University of Hawaii, Manoa, USA

The Asia Pacific region has experienced unprecedented rates of urbanization in hazard prone areas, contributing not just to increased risks and probability of harm, but also major challenges with respect to longer term resilience and sustainability. While cities have come to represent strategic and symbolic concentrations of modernity, wealth, and power, they have also become critical vulnerable locations. In addition to the potential for economic disruption of global systems of trade and commerce, cities have also attracted large numbers of migrants and vulnerable populations. While efforts to plan, engineer, and regulate urban space to ensure health and safety have been somewhat successful, the experience has been uneven, particularly if different cities and even different neighborhoods or communities within an urban area are considered. Moreover, the extent to which unsustainable building and development processes associated with urbanization contribute to longer term drivers of climate change, sea level rise and hazard risk needs further exploration. Drawing up recent research exploring these connections between urbanization and climate, the findings and implications for cities whether in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation, hazard mitigation, or longer term adaptation strategies are summarized. While cities are global stressors, there are also significant opportunities to intervene at the local and community level, one neighborhood at a time to reduce “ecological footprints” and build stronger political support for reform. Such a perspective which is locally‐based, culturally appropriate, and above all attuned to local geologic, climatic, and environmental conditions will also serve to strengthen opportunities for innovation. Based on a series of cases on different communities in different countries in the Asia Pacific region, cities and city planning are seen as solutions for sustainable resilience.