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Lessons for the Future
In response to the Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster, we at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting launched BEYOND0311, a project that was set up with great urgency and placed under the president’s direct control and the responsibility of the Business Innovation and Creation Center. The goal was to provide support to Kesennuma City in Miyagi Prefecture while drawing on the advantages of the company’s main business activities and incorporating experiences from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake Disaster. The support was provided free of charge, and the project set out to help the city in preparing a reconstruction plan. A wide range of efforts were made under the project, such as managing the administrative office for creating the earthquake disaster reconstruction plan together with the relevant department in the city government, as well as sending employees to the department for the duration of the project to gather and organize information and prepare the initial plan. We also assisted the Citizen Committee for Earthquake Disaster Recovery, which consisted mainly of young Kesennuma residents, to prepare a proposal. It was later decided to incorporate the content of the proposal into the earthquake disaster reconstruction plan to the fullest extent. In June 2012, the Recovery Promotion Office was created within the Business Innovation and Creation Center and began providing support for industrial revitalization as the second stage of BEYOND0311. The Office organized an executive committee representing Kesennuma City and relevant organizations, with its administrative office set up in Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting. The Office launched Go Ahead! Kesennuma, organized seminars intended to connect the Kesennuma City government and local companies with companies located mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area, provided information through email newsletters, supported efforts to attract companies to the city, and helped business matchmaking. At the end of March 2014, BEYOND0311 ended after three years of operation. Since then, we have conducted research studies on disaster prevention from various perspectives, taking advantage of the knowledge and experience gained by providing support to the disaster-stricken area. Also, with a wider perspective, the Business Innovation and Creation Center has engaged in activities that contribute to society, such as providing support for social enterprises. Japan has suffered various disasters since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Based on the experience of observing recovery and reconstruction efforts at actual disaster-affected areas, we consider it necessary to have top management in charge at the time of a disaster, to develop a system that facilitates a “creative recovery,” to provide support to disaster-affected areas, and to create a mechanism for utilizing the capabilities of the private sector.