Malaysia should learn from Japan, raise awareness on disaster preparedness

Esther Landau

KUALA LUMPUR: Like any other countries, Malaysia is no exception when it comes to braving natural disasters such as massive flooding.

Early November last year, Malaysians were shocked by the news of major floods in Penang which claimed the lives of seven people.

The situation, described as unprecedented, was triggered by the heaviest rainfall in Penang's history.

Penang government had to reach out to the Federal government for military aid in flood relief efforts. Many Penang residents had to be evacuated from their homes and sought shelter in flood relief centres.

Such disaster not only struck Penang but other coastal states too like Kelantan, Johor and Sarawak. Due to climate change, areas near the coastal areas are facing high risks to such disaster.

Today, news on flooding and huge number of victims being relocated is common in the country.

Malaysians, therefore, should learn and adopt Japan's disaster preparedness.

Like any other countries, Malaysia is no exception when it comes to braving natural disasters such as massive flooding. NSTP file pic

Being one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world, Japan has had many experiences facing natural disasters.

On March 11, 2011 Japan's Tohoku region experienced the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in the country at 9.0 to 9.1 magnitude on the Richter scale. The quakes triggered the most powerful tsunami waves that reached heights of up to 40 metres.

In Sendai, a port city in the Miyagi prefecture, tsunami travelled inland as far as 10km, submerged the Sendai Airport, and killed hundreds in its path.

Due to the large-scale devastation, thousands of lives were claimed and buildings were destroyed.

Hence, in Japan, the media plays the most important role in disseminating information daily especially on such disaster.

One of Japan's newspaper publications, Kahoku Shimpo Publishing Co, disseminated the most information on the disaster to the people in the affected area.

The paper devoted most of its pages to raise awareness of the disaster preparedness.

Kahoku Shimpo Publishing Co. Disaster Risk Reduction and Education Project Office head Shinichi Takeda told eighteen Malaysian media practitioners who followed the 2017 Jenesys programme that the publication had to do more to raise awareness about disaster risk reduction among the locals.

"After the incident struck our hometown, the rest of the publishing team and I struggled to collect crisis data, write articles, transport and deliver papers to the locals at the affected area.

"We want to create awareness and disaster-relief preparedness among the people, so that we are all prepared for the next such incident in the future. We are putting all efforts to make sure that real information is being delivered to everyone. We play the most important role in delivering and preparing news to the people," he said.

Kahoku Shimpo also organise workshop called Musubi-juku to share details of disaster and discuss a plan to reduce disaster risk in the future.

Although Japanese cities are often struck by natural disaster, however, they rarely topple and continue to rise to become the most advance country in the world.

Deputy Chief Mission of Malaysia to Japan, Azri Mat Yacob, who has been in Japan for three years, told the Malaysian press during the programme that there are many elements of readiness that can be applied in Malaysia despite the different disasters in both countries.

"There is a lot of emphasis in educating the public on what they should do in the event of a disaster in Japan. That is why I am not too worried because they are well-prepared.

"They also have compulsory courses where simulators are used to recreate ground shakeas. The practice is to allow better preparedness against any natural disasters," he said.

He also said disaster risk reduction is the responsibility of all and the media has its role to play in disaster risk reduction awareness.

"The media has to do something to address the issue and reduce the number of death tolls due to the natural disaster," he added. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd