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Getting ready for mega disasters: the role of past experience in changing disaster consciousness

Yu Guo (Faculty of Humanities and Arts, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, China)
Yiwei Li (Institute for Journalism, Media and Communication Studies, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 August 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

Attempting to explore the role of direct experience in influencing disaster consciousness and public opinion, the purpose of this paper is to carry out comparative analyses of Japanese people’s knowledge, risk perception, and policy preference about large-scale earthquake disaster before and after the Great East Japan Earthquake. More importantly, aiming to provide implications regarding the application of past experience, the predictive power of direct experience on disaster consciousness is also examined.

Design/methodology/approach

This study analyzed parts of the data collected from two nationwide public opinion surveys among Japanese conducted by the Japanese Government. Analyses of variance were performed to examine changes in disaster consciousness. A path model was developed to examine the predicted effects of direct experience. χ2 tests were performed to examine changes in strategy preference.

Findings

This study found significant changes in Japanese people’s knowledge of natural hazards and perception of mega disaster risk. Tests of the path model suggested significant positive effect of societal level impact on disaster consciousness and strong predictive power of knowledge on risk perception. Significant changes in strategy preference were also found.

Practical implications

Results supported the predictive power of direct experience, highlighting the significance of recalling past experience as well as creating indirect experience to raise public consciousness and motivate appropriate actions.

Originality/value

This is one of the few studies that investigate changes in public opinion among Japanese before and after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the Social Science Japan Data Archive (SSJDA), Center for Social Research and Data Archives, Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo in Japan, who provides the data for this secondary analysis. This research is partially supported by the Faculty Research Grants (General Research Grants, GRFs) of Macau University of Science and Technology (Grant Number: 0498) and the Crisis Reporting Project (CRP) of Keio University. The authors thank Murray Turoff and Starr Roxanne Hiltz who provided insight and expertise that greatly assisted us in revising the manuscript. The authors would also like to show our gratitude to the Japanese faculty members of the Institute for Journalism, Media and Communication Studies, Keio University, as well as students in Yiwei Li ' s research group, for sharing their opinions on the Japanese culture and society.

Citation

Guo, Y. and Li, Y. (2016), "Getting ready for mega disasters: the role of past experience in changing disaster consciousness", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 492-505. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-01-2016-0008

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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