At least 217 die after floods and landslides hit Japan with the elderly especially suffering

At least 217 die after floods and landslides hit Japan with the elderly especially suffering

Sawako Uchida and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The death toll now stands at 217 after severe floods and landslides his Western and Southwestern Japan. Yet, with at least 20 known people still missing, then most likely the figure will continue to increase. Hence, many prefectures need to work with the central government in order to alleviate the situation, especially with such high temperatures hitting Japan after the devastating floods and landslides. On top of this, new statistics show that the elderly and disabled – often this will overlap – have especially suffered in terms of percentages.

Therefore, the government of Japan and society on a whole must do soul-searching about how the elderly and disabled are especially vulnerable to natural disasters. If not, then the ratio of elderly and disabled deaths will continue to cause alarm. After all, past disasters have also provided statistics that highlight the vulnerability of the elderly and disabled when the potency of nature strikes in Japan.

Another major concern in Japan is the failure of warning systems when it comes to the most vulnerable in society. Equally important, overemphasis is being put on issues related to earthquakes. Hence, a new approach is needed to focus on strengthening warning systems and having a mechanism that supports vulnerable individuals during times of emergency.

It is known that approximately seventy percent of victims comprise of individuals who are over the age of sixty. This statistic may alter a little in either direction once all the dead bodies are accounted for. However, examining 170 individuals who have perished after brutal floods and landslides struck Western and Southwestern Japan, then the figure is alarmingly high among the elderly and disabled – with many individuals residing alone.

Of course, factors will vary for why the elderly and disabled – often overlapping – suffered the most. This relates to mobility, isolation, not understanding emergency warnings, unable to receive warning alerts, unable to move to higher ground, residing in remote areas, and other factors. Yet, despite the factors varying, the fact remains that the elderly and disabled are suffering the brunt of the potency of nature based on failings within the system – and natural and sad factors based on isolation and no firm community organization to help the most vulnerable in society.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, stipulated, We will help everyone get back to a normal life as we encourage (municipalities) to speed up their disaster recovery without fiscal concerns.”

These words are fine by themselves but Japan must also address why the most vulnerable in society are suffering when earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, landslides, and other events of nature, strike Japan. After all, with so many disasters to research then something needs to change in order to help vulnerable people during times of crisis.

Modern Tokyo News is part of the Modern Tokyo Times group

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