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Progress or repetition? Gender perspectives in disaster management in Japan

Yoko Saito (Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI), Kobe, Japan)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 April 2014




The purpose of this paper is to review research on gender and disasters in Japan, from the Kobe Earthquake to the Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE). Gender perspectives were not adequately considered immediately after these disasters. Rather, disasters reinforced the gender roles prevalent in Japanese society. The paper seeks ways to position gender perspectives into mainstream thought on disaster management in Japan.


A literature review was conducted of secondary Japanese sources including peer-reviewed and non-academic journals published by governmental and non-governmental organisations after the Kobe, Niigata Chuetsu, and GEJEs. Popularly searched keywords were the Japanese for “gender” or “women”, and “disasters”.


A review of the published literature indicated that gender-related issues experienced during the Kobe Earthquake in 1995 and the Niigata Chuetsu Earthquake in 2004 were repeated following the GEJE in 2011. Japan has experienced numerous disasters; thus, the importance of gender perspectives has been gradually recognised and has received increased attention after the GEJE. This paper emphasises that these should be embedded at policy level and within disaster management structures to create disaster resilient communities.


To date, not much research in Japan, and none published in English, has reviewed gender- and disaster-related issues.



This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 24810035.


Saito, Y. (2014), "Progress or repetition? Gender perspectives in disaster management in Japan", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 23 No. 2, pp. 98-111.



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