Japan Earthquake – A Lesson in Education

A Tsunami Evacuation Route Sign

Last week, I drafted out an idea for an article about how we in the UK tend to live our lives with a certain level of complacency, as we don’t live with the constant fear of natural disasters or dangerous animals, like some countries do. However, after watching live news coverage as Japan faced another tsunami threat following today’s earthquake, I decided to write a different piece.

What I want to talk about today is how this latest earthquake and tsunami threat, or rather the Japanese people’s response to it, highlights the power of education, both on a personal level, and on a social level.

Due to the constant threat of earthquakes, much of the Japanese infrastructure is already designed to be quake-proof. As a result, buildings are resilient, and within seconds of tremors being detected, Japan’s high-speed Shinkansen “Bullet Trains” glide safely to a halt to prevent possible derailments and casualties. However, this morning’s live news footage also revealed the social education that has allowed Japan to cope with such constant threats.

After the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, extra effort was putting into improving safety measures in coastal areas, including educating people about what to do during a tsunami alert.

The Media Response

Rather than being sensationalist nonsense filled with idle speculation, the live NHK News broadcasts presented information in a calm and clear way, and relayed actual facts being fed to them from the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

NHK World, Japan’s English-language channel, also broadcast the domestic news coverage, but with a simultaneous Japanese-to-English translation, so that tourists or residents who aren’t fluent in Japanese could also receive the same information.

The Social Response

The news footage also highlighted the power of education at a social level. An outside broadcast from one of the many tsunami evacuation points on high ground included an interview with one of the local safety leaders, a local resident who had accepted the responsibility of leading his fellow residents to safety during such an event.

The safety leader explained how the town has been split into three sections, with each section being covered by a leader like himself, who has the duty of going around to every house in their section to ensure that all the residents make it safely to the evacuation point and are accounted for.

It was a great example of how social education can lead to everybody working together to ensure the welfare of the community as a whole. On this day, it was the safety leaders who were looking after the community, on another day, and under different circumstances, it could be different members.

Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that there were any deaths resulting from the earthquake, and the large tsunami waves never came. Therefore, we can focus on the positive aspect of lessons learned from past events being put into action to ensure the safety of everyone.